The LIV Golf/PGA Tour controversy has taken yet another twist with Greg Norman being asked not to attend or be involved in a PGA Tour sanctioned event he founded in 1989, some 33 years ago.
The QBE Shootout has always been a team event and it’s always played during the PGA Tour off-season. It’s a popular event drawing PGA Tour stars and also LPGA Tour players, including long-time supporter Lexi Thompson.
This writer has attended, what is commonly known as the Shark Shootout, on a number of occasions including 2017 when the all-Ireland pairing of Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell, dressed in the same attire, proudly teed-up on the host Tiburon course in Florida.
It was far better golfing times in those days with Lowry having spent a few days residing at GMac’s Lake Nona residence ahead of making his maiden full-time start on the 2017/18 PGA Tour.
Lowry and McDowell eventually finished runners-up in that 2017 QBE Shootout behind the American pair of Sean O’Hair and Steve Stricker, with Lowry’s and McDowell’s pairing at Tiburon being the same week Rory McIlroy confirmed Harry Diamond would be his full-time caddy for that 2017/8 season.
Norman took to his ‘Instagram’ to confirm he’d been not asked to be present at his own Tiburon design course, where the event has been hosted since 2001.
Norman, and the CEO of LIV Golf, said the request for the tournament host of one of the PGA’s more popular team events to stay away because of his involvement with LIV Golf.
“In some people’s mind(s) this is too disruptive and evolution is perceived as a bad thing,” Norman wrote.
Tournament Director Rob Hartman said event organisers have been in discussions with Norman about his role as QBE host for months and all parties made a collective decision for Norman not to attend.
“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 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.”
According to the Shootout’s website, the tournament has raised more than $15 million for charity, most notably for CureSearch for Children’s Cancer.
Norman said in his post he will not attend the QBE: “So the focus can remain on the missions at hand. To the Shootout charities, the City of Naples and to all of the incredible volunteers, corporate sponsors, fans and Shootout staff, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued good work and support,” Norman wrote.
“I will miss seeing you all this year but I will certainly be there in spirit.”
A number of PGA golfers who have played in the QBE, including 2021 champions Jason Kokrak and Kevin Na, have joined the LIV Tour, which makes them ineligible to play in PGA Tour-affiliated events, including the QBE.
Hartman indicated the QBE’s 24-player field will be announced in mid-October.
The QBE Shootout is scheduled to be played Dec. 7-11 again at the Tiburon Golf Club.
“I expect we’ll certainly have some new, fresh faces in Naples but a quality field, top to bottom once again,” added Hartman. “Things are in a great place; we’re expecting to have a really great event. We’re all really looking forward to December and putting a big number on the board from a charitable perspective.”