Norman heaps praise on rebellious Saudi sign-ups

John Craven

Greg Norman (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

John Craven

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Greg Norman has reached out to the 25 PGA Tour players who have signed up to compete at February’s Saudi International, praising them for standing up against what he describes as “anticompetitive threats”.

In a memo, the details of which were obtained by Golf Digest Australia, Norman addressed the likes of Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell for their stance against the game’s status quo, given all players listed to compete at the now Asian Tour event are likely to face sanctions from the PGA Tour.

“I want to share my undivided support and endorsement for the stance taken in announcing your participation in the Saudi International,” Norman wrote.

“You are standing up for your rights as professional athletes, and for what is right and best for the global development of the sport of golf.

“Whilst you may not be aware, this has been a long-standing issue for the world’s best players – seeking the ability to play as far and as wide as they choose to maximise their value, without threat of penalty or otherwise – and today is a positive and important step in changing the way in which professional bodies should reduce controls that limit the game’s ability to flourish at a truly global level.

“Without this change, you will never realise your individual and collective value, or elevate the game to the levels it deserves. Simply put, the anticompetitive threats and actions these professional bodies have taken are designed to prevent fair competition, limit the game’s growth, and harm your ability to realise your true value.

“I wanted to reach out directly to share the respect I have for you and the strength of your actions, and also to voice the level of support you have from so many sectors of the industry, who are greatly encouraged by your leadership and the new horizons in golf’s future.”

The PGA Tour has already confirmed to Golf Channel, that, “We have not granted any conflicting-event releases for the Saudi International tournament.

“Per PGA Tour regulations, a decision on conflicting-event releases can be made up until 30 days before the event’s first round.”

Essentially, golf seems to be at war and the players evidently hold a lot of power. Far from deterred by potential fines and sanctions, the players committing to the Saudi event have no doubt been assured that such penalties will be matched by the almighty Saudi dollar, and then some, with players sure to be heavily compensated just for showing up in the region. Those players so far include:

  • Abraham Ancer
  • Adri Arnaus
  • Rafael Cabrera Bello
  • Paul Casey
  • Bryson DeChambeau
  • Jason Dufner
  • Tommy Fleetwood
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Tyrrell Hatton
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Jason Kokrak
  • Shane Lowry
  • Graeme McDowell
  • Phil Mickelson
  • Kevin Na
  • Joaquin Niemann
  • Louis Oosthuizen
  • Ian Poulter
  • Xander Schauffele
  • Adam Scott
  • Henrik Stenson
  • Harold Varner III
  • Jhonattan Vegas
  • Bubba Watson
  • Lee Westwood

It seems the Asian Tour has never been more popular.

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