Greg Norman has taken a contemptuous swipe at his rivals in one of the bitterest spotfires in his war against golf officials.
His ice-cold pot-shot at his PGA Tour detractors comes as rumours continue to grow louder that Aussie star Cameron Smith is set to defect to Norman’s rebel LIV promotion with reports suggesting an insane signing bonus offer of around $130 million is simply too good to say no to.
Norman is suddenly the one with the trump cards up his sleeve.
Smith, Australia’s newly minted British Open champion, who stormed to victory at St Andrews on Monday (AEST) with a superb final round is at the centre of the furore with even former US President Donald Trump urging golfers to “take the money” and sign with Norman’s Saudi-backed series.
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The sight of Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and potentially Smith, the new world No. 2, joining Norman’s venture further legitimatises LIV Golf and leaves the establishment under pressure to cut a deal.
Norman has now gone public with his belief the PGA Tour has shot itself in the foot with its “stupidity” for not answering his calls before the war exploded.
“They rested on their laurels thinking they’re the only game in town, they’re the monopolist, they can control the game and this is the way it’s going to be,” Norman told The Palm Beach Post.
“From a player’s perspective I’ve always said the Tour works for us, we don’t work for the Tour. And I was in the minority with that voice.”
Norman is absolutely scathing of golf’s establishment in the Q&A with the newspaper where he also suggests the whole situation could have been avoided if the established Tours had been willing to come to an agreement.
“I think the PGA Tour, I actually feel sorry for them because they’ve really hurt themselves by the rhetoric they’ve been spreading,” he said.
“I’ve taken the high road. OK, you want to say these stupid things, go right ahead. Our business model has stood up to the players and they absolutely love it. Our product has stood up to the players and the fans and they absolutely love it.”
He went on to say: “They brought it on themselves. We haven’t done anything other than putting together a business model and giving independent contractors a right to earn a living doing something else, as well as still being a member of the PGA Tour.
“That is a testament to their stupidity, quite honestly. Instead of sitting down and taking a phone call from us and just say, ‘hey, work this out. We can do it.’ It’s an easy fix it’s ridiculous.”
Norman also singled out PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and TV commentator Brandel Chamblee.
The popular golf pundit said last month Norman should be kicked out of the Hall of Fame.
Norman’s response was cutting.
“I find it laughable,” he said.
“Has Brandel Chamblee ever been to Saudi Arabia? Has he ever built a golf course in a third world country? He’s a paid talking bobblehead. That’s all he is. He’s got my phone number. He’s never picked up a phone and asked me a question. Sadly, you’re making yourself look like a jerk. It’s like water off a duck’s back to me.
He said Monahan hasn’t had the “decency” to come to the negotiating table even with Norman stating publicly he envisages a scenario where LIV Golf and the PGA Tour merge.
“It just baffles me they haven’t even had the decency to do it. We opened the door for them a couple of times and they didn’t want to come in,” he said.
“Jay Monahan, if he had the decency to take our meetings right from the get-go none of this stuff would be in place today. The game of golf would be in a much better place.”
LIV Golf is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Human Rights groups have criticised the venture saying it exists solely to boost Saudi Arabia’s international reputation, a phenomenon labelled “sportswashing”.
Smith bristled — but did not issue an outright denial — when asked about reports linking him to LIV following his victory in the Open.
“I just won the British Open, and you’re asking about that. I think that’s pretty not that good,” Smith said.
“I don’t know, mate. My team around me worries about all that stuff. I’m here to win golf tournaments.”
As well as Smith, LIV are also reported to be on the brink of signing Swedish star Henrik Stenson. Stenson is expected to be stripped of Europe’s Ryder Cup captaincy if he if he signs with LIV.