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Golf legend Greg Norman, who has come under fire for his Saudi-funded LIV golf league, brushed off criticism during an interview with Tucker Carlson on Sunday, where he outlined his plan to revolutionize the sport and said revealed details of a multi-million dollar offer. LIV done to Tiger Woods.
Norman sat down with Carlson at Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Sunday after the final round of the third LIV Golf Tournament, which featured 48 international golfers competing for the $25 million prize. .
The The PGA Tour rival has been the target of immense backlash due to its ties to the Saudi government. Still, LIV Golf has managed to attract golfers like Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Dustin Johnson while taking fire from Rory McIlroy and others.
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Norman said his league was forced to delay its official launch in February after unspecified “hurdles” were thrown in its way by the PGA Tour.
“We decided to step back, analyze the situation. We knew our role model was where it was. We knew it was there, it wasn’t going anywhere. The money was in the bank,” he told Carlson, “so made an adjustment and we bypassed all the obstacles that stood in our way, so we made the invitational series.”
Norman used the time to ask fans what they thought the sport was missing, he said, and how they thought fan engagement could be improved.
“Our model is built 100% around the Gulf ecosystem from the ground up,” Norman told Carlson. “We’re not trying to destroy the PGA Tour or the European Tour. We have to work within the ecosystem to show that it’s a big enough space. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry.”
Norman said it “amazes me” that sponsors have dropped professional golfers for joining LIV because of its links to Saudi Arabia, despite having made billions of dollars in business themselves in Saudi Arabia.
“I think the PGA Tour has about 27 sponsors who do over $40 billion in annual revenue in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“Why doesn’t the PGA Tour call the CEOs of [these businesses] saying we can’t do business with you because you do business with Saudi Arabia? Why are they going after professional golfers? Male professional golfers,” Norman continued.
Norman said the PGA was unwilling to make room for another top-tier American golf tour because it threatens the monopoly it has long enjoyed.
“It’s a monopoly. They just want to shut us down any way they can,” he said, “so they use whatever leverage they can.”
Still, Norman said he was confident about LIV Golf’s future.
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“They’re not going to shut us down because the product speaks for itself. We have almost every day, we get calls every day from players [saying] “I want to get in…the list is getting longer and longer for players who want to get in. Which, again, is a testament to good white noise.”
When asked why his rival tour caused such an outcry among American golf fans, Norman replied bluntly, “I don’t know.”
“I really don’t care,” he added. “I love the game so much and I want to grow the game of golf and we at LIV see this opportunity not only for the men but also for the women. We at LIV see it for the NCAA and the younger generations We at LIV see it as a pathway to opportunities for children to discover a new world.
He continued: “LIV is the future of golf…because you don’t see what we see in the future. CSR programs, education programs, whatever is out there that we want to be involved in for the golf and developing the game of golf,” said Norman.
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Norman later revealed to Carlson that LIV Golf had made an offer to Tiger Woods in the $700-800 million range. Woods ultimately declined and remained a loyal member of the PGA Tour.
Carlson asked if it was true that LIV had offered Woods $700-800 million.
“That number has been released, yes,” Norman replied. “Tiger is a needle mover. So of course you have to watch the best of the best. They had originally approached Tiger before I became CEO,” he said, “adding, ‘yes, that number is somewhere in this neighborhood. “
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.