NEW YORK – LIV Golf chief executive officer Greg Norman will meet US lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week to discuss the Saudi-backed circuit’s ongoing dispute with the PGA Tour, in an attempt to improve the company’s public image.

The LIV Golf Invitational Series launched earlier in 2022 and has remained in the news for the legal battle with the US-based PGA Tour and criticism it continues to receive for its use of Saudi financing.

“LIV Golf is coming to the Hill this week to meet with lawmakers from both parties,” LIV spokesman Jonathan Grella told Politico and other news outlets.

“Given the PGA Tour’s attempts to stifle our progress in reimagining the game, we think it’s imperative to educate members on LIV’s business model and counter the Tour’s anti-competitive efforts.”

Lawyers for LIV and several of its players have accused the PGA Tour in a federal antitrust lawsuit of improperly suspending members for their involvement in LIV.

Major champions Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau are among the players involved in the lawsuit, though Mickelson recently said he might opt to remove his name from the lawsuit.

LIV has been intertwined with political issues from the very start, with Mickelson admitting in February that Saudi Arabia – whose Public Investment Fund is financing the big-money LIV Series – was “scary” with a bad human rights record. The Saudi ties have also caught the attention of Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

“My problem is, you have a billion dollars of Saudi money coming in and essentially buying off some of the participants in the PGA Tour with a direct goal of essentially breaking the back of the Tour,” US Congressman Chip Roy told the Wall Street Journal in July.

Critics of LIV have also said that the circuit is essentially an attempt by Saudi Arabia at “sportswashing” to improve the nation’s image.

But former US President Donald Trump has supported LIV in its attempts to rival the PGA Tour. Trump National Bedminster in New Jersey hosted LIV’s third event and Trump Doral in Miami will host the season finale.

The Department of Justice also opened a probe into the PGA Tour in July, investigating whether it is trying to act as an illegal monopoly.

Norman said last week in an interview with The Australian that he is not interested in a truce with the PGA Tour, which he accused of trying to destroy the upstart series.

“This notion we’re trying to destroy tours is not true. The PGA Tour is trying to destroy us,” he told the newspaper.

Norman also said that he is done with outreach efforts to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan after being rebuffed several times.

Monahan had said that LIV poses an “irrational threat, one not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game”.

“We have no interest in sitting down with them, to be honest with you, because our product is working,” Norman added. REUTERS, AFP

Last modified: September 20, 2022