Greg Norman, who is fronting a Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway golf league, has warned the head of the PGA Tour “it certainly is not the end” despite a string of high-profile players shunning the scheme.
In an open letter, Norman took specific issue with Jay Monahan’s insistence that players will be banned from competing on the PGA Tour if they sign a deal with the Saudis. Norman has now claimed the PGA Tour is “threatening” its members.
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson are among those who have pledged allegiance to the PGA despite Norman’s advances. Phil Mickelson finds himself in the eye of a public relations storm after admitting he used the Saudi Super Golf League plan to earn leverage with the PGA Tour.
At a meeting of players in Florida on Tuesday, Monahan, the commissioner, reasserted that golfers cannot combine the SGL with the PGA Tour. Norman has now fired back. In the correspondence, the former world No1 states: “Surely you jest. And surely, your lawyers at the PGA Tour must be holding their breath.
“As has been widely reported, you have threatened the players on the PGA Tour, all of whom are independent contractors, with lifetime bans if they decide to play golf in a league sponsored by anyone other than the Tour. For decades, I have fought for the rights of players to enjoy a career in which they are rewarded fully and properly for their efforts. They are one-in-a-million athletes. Yet for decades, the Tour has put its own financial ambitions ahead of the players, and every player on the tour knows it. The Tour is the players’ tour not your administration’s Tour.”
Norman added: “When you try to bluff and intimidate players by bullying and threatening them, you are guilty of going too far, being unfair, and you likely are in violation of the law. Simply put, you can’t ban players from playing golf. Players have the right and the freedom to play where we like.
“What is wrong with allowing players to make their own decisions about where to play and how often to play? What is so wrong with player choice? Why do you feel so threatened that you would resort to such a desperate, unwise, and unenforceable threat?”
The PGA Tour is likely to be undeterred by Norman’s remarks, not least because of the backing as offered by Woods and co. Previously, Monahan told players that action would be taken against anyone trying to cause commercial or reputational harm to his organisation. Norman, in turn, emphasises the value of competition. “Commissioner – this is just the beginning,” said his letter in closing. “It certainly is not the end.” The PGA Tour is yet to respond. – Guardian