Greg Norman says he has been asked not to attend the QBE Shootout in December, a PGA Tour-sanctioned event he started in 1989 as the Shark Shootout that is held at the Tiburon Golf Club course he designed.
It was not clear who asked that he not attend the December 9-11 tournament. The tournament director says it was a collective decision.
Norman, who is in Washington to meet with members of Congress about his Saudi-funded LIV Golf series, revealed the news in an Instagram post late Tuesday afternoon without saying who was behind it.
‘Why one might ask? Perhaps it is because I am helping to give golf a new heartbeat, creating new value and delivering a new product that is loved by players, fans and broadcasters alike,’ Norman said.
‘And in doing so, finally giving players their rights as independent contractors to benefit from their performance and brand.
‘In some people’s mind this is too disruptive and evolution is perceived as a bad thing. I disagree – competition breeds excellence.’
The QBE Shootout was the first of the PGA Tour’s unofficial season late in the year to raise more than $1million for childhood cancer, a figure he says now tops $15m. It is comprised of 12 two-player teams competing in various formats.
Jason Kokrak and Kevin Na are the defending champions. They will not return this year because the PGA Tour suspended the players who signed with LIV Golf, and the QBE Shootout is a tour-sanctioned tournament.
While Norman says he was asked not to attend, he later says in the Instagram post that the money raised for charities is most important to him.
‘As such, I have decided not to attend this year’s event so the focus can remain on the missions at hand,’ he said.
Rob Hartman, the tournament director, told The Naples Daily News it was a mutual decision.
‘As we got close, ultimately the decision was made that he was going to step back and really let the focus remain on our tremendous charitable partners,’ Hartman said.
‘When he started this event 34 years ago, it was all about charity then, and it’s all about charity now. Greg just made the decision that he didn´t want anything to distract from that.’
Golf has been in the headlines for months following the introduction of the controversial Saudi-backed breakaway league, rivaling the traditional PGA Tour in the men’s game.
The event is supported by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). It has led to players facing criticism for taking part in it due to the kingdom’s dismal human rights record, while detractors have also labeled the competition as ‘sportwashing’.
Justin Thomas took a swipe at LIV Golf defectors as rebels continue their push to have world ranking points available to the breakaway tour.
On Tuesday, all 48 LIV Golf players co-signed a letter to the chairman of the Official World Golf Ranking, Peter Dawson, pleading for golf’s ranking body to recognize the breakaway series, claiming their existing system is ‘undermined’ and ‘invalid’ without them.
‘Every week that passes without the inclusion of LIV athletes undermines the historical value of OWGR,’ the letter read.
‘We call on you to render a positive decision quickly – for the benefit of the integrity of the rankings, the game and all of us who love the sport.’
Thomas, who addressed the letter in front of the media before the 2022 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow, was typically dismissive of the game’s breakaway stars, including Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Sergio Garcia.
Thomas, a two-time major champion, said: ‘I mean, I don’t understand.
‘It’s very obvious and written right there in front of them. They just naturally want what’s best for them, just like the decision they made to go there.
‘I totally understand. Hey, if I was doing the same situation, I would want it, but that doesn’t necessarily make it right.
‘The governing bodies have created a system for a reason, and that’s to try to create the best system possible to determine the best players in the world.’