Greg Norman said on Tuesday that he had been allocated an additional $ 2 billion ($ 2.8 billion) from Saudi Arabia to rebuild his 54-hole LIV series into a full league by 2024.
Last week, Norman revealed that the league was ready to launch in February, until passionate remarks by six-time main winner Phil Mickelson regarding the Saudi regime forced some players to give up.
Australian Grand Golf Norman, a two-time British Open champion, is the CEO of LIV Golf, a potential competitor to the famous American tours PGA and DP World (formerly European).
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The first of eight LIV Golf competitions involving 48 people in 2022, each with a prize pool of $ 25 million ($ 36 million), will be held at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire, north of London, from 9 to 11 June.
In 2023, it is planned to hold 10 more tournaments, and in 2024 there will be 14, and 67-year-old Norman says that his vision extends to the “decade” in the future.
“We have just received approval to launch our schedule for 2023, 24 and 25 years,” Norman told the BBC. “We are also looking further. We look at the decades.
“We have $ 2 billion to support this, so we have extra funds. Twenty-two and 23 years are our deadly years.
“Of course, we had to turn around because there were obstacles with several establishments – PGA Tour and DP World Tour – but we turned brilliantly.”
Mickelson and Lee Westwood are among the players known to have requested releases from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour to perform at Centurion, and top champions Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaimer will also attend the inaugural event.
“We have 19 of the 100 best players dedicated to Centurion,” said Norman, who added that the tournament will be broadcast live on YouTube.
“We have five of the top 50 and a lot of people didn’t think we could achieve.”
“I DO NOT RESPOND TO SAUDI ARABIA”
In a separate interview with Sky SportsNorman said the Rebel League is not an attempt to destroy the PGA Tour, and also defended his support for Saudi Arabia amid allegations of sports manipulation.
He said he understands concerns about LIV funding, given the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and the killing of Washington Post reporter Jamal Hashoghi.
“But when you go back to Saudi Arabia, they are making cultural changes from within to change that. They don’t want that stigma to sit there, ”Norman told the newspaper.
He added: “They don’t have bosses. We are independent. I do not answer to Saudi Arabia. I am not answering to their government or MBS (Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud).
“I am accountable to my board of directors, and MBS is not in that. How simple. So this story is not true. “
Norman also insisted that “we are not a branch (tour), but rather” an addition to the golf ecosystem. ”
“When players understand this, they gain more confidence in the voice they have and in the choices they have,” he said.
“We are not trying to ruin the Tour. 100 percent no. I will fight to the death on this. I’m still a lifelong participant of the PGA Tour. “
Former world number one Mickelson, 51, resonated in February after the publication of his remarks made last year to author Alan Shipnak about the new venture.
Incumbent U.S. PGA champion Mickelson said Saudi LIV Golf fans were “terrible” with a “terrible human rights record.”
But the American added that he is ready to deal with them to get the leverage to “restructure” the American PGA Tour.
Doubts remain as to whether Mickelson will defend his American PGA title at the Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma, next week.