You could argue it was a timely internet breakdown just minutes ahead of Greg Norman facing a Zoom conference call at the QBE Shootout in Naples, Florida.
It was the first time Norman was to face a non-arranged gathering, in contrast to the scenario when a select few ‘user-friendly’ media were invited to attend a New York news conference in late October when the two-time Open Champion was formally announced as Tour Commissioner of the Saudi backed golf league.
Those on the Naples Zoom call were first advised Norman was on the last hole of his Pro-Am and it would be a matter of minutes before he was on video to face non-arranged questions.
However, the six of us on the Zoom call waited and waited till finally the Tour media official said that the internet was ‘down’ on the entire Ritz Carlton property. There was a suggestion Commissioner Monahan, given his feelings about Norman, had been spotted earlier in the day hiring a backhoe from a local rental outlet, but not true.
It meant the Tour asking the questions of Norman, though we understand Steve DiMeglio of USA Today, who is on site, could have managed to squeeze just one of many questions the ‘real’ golf media wanted to know.
The question asked – was Norman confident heading into the New Year of his new golfing venture?
“Look, what we’ve done already is an indication of our commitment to the game of golf through the Asian Tour investment,” said Norman.
“I can’t remember the last time anybody wanted to come out and invest a couple hundred million dollars into an Asian tour, a tour in general from the outside. I think that’s a testament to our commitment of where we want and how we want the game of golf to grow.
“You know, Asia, I’ve been going to Asia for 40-plus years. I still go to Asia through my golf course design and through my consumer products and I see what has been needed there. I see the development of the game of golf, and all through the Pacific Rim there, specifically Vietnam. I see it in Thailand, I see it in Singapore, I see it in Japan.
“We’ve got Hideki Matsuyama, who used to be the Asian amateur, now the U.S. Masters champion. I just want to be able to allow these players more of an opportunity to get the growth and the development they do need to be where they want to be, be a Hideki Matsuyama coming through the Asian ranks and coming up and winning a major championship, let alone the U.S. Masters.
“You know, I’m very, very passionate about that. I’m not going to lose focus on that at all. I stay finely tuned with my C-suite people on the same thing about our future and about how we want to get to certain milestones in our life and obviously for our investors. They’ve invested for a reason, they invest for a reason because they see golf and sport as an asset class now and you’ll see it all around the world, whether it’s in IPL cricket or whether it’s even the NFL, NBA, NHL, you see it in all different leagues, people invested in sport in general.”
Sadly, it was the only question of a Saudi League nature asked when I had my mind set on asking his reaction to Rory McIlroy’s ‘independent contractor’ remarks last week in the Bahamas along with a few others, if asked.
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