Greg Norman insisted ‘golf is a force for good’ after LIV Golf announced its arrival in Australia amid wild party scenes and some tremendous golf.
Norman, the LIV chief executive and commissioner new the tournament would be a winner.
Asking Australians to come to a massive party while watching sport? No-brainer money-maker.
‘From my perspective, it’s product. We have a product that the fans want,’ he said on Sunday after Talor Gooch triumphed at the Grange Golf Club.
‘Everywhere you go, golf is a force for good.’
Australia’s golf fans have brought the LIV event to life this weekend with sell-out crowds and a party atmosphere, as Greg Norman says it’s clear ‘everywhere you go, golf is a force for good’
South Australia’s Premier Peter Malinauskas says LIV is not a representative of Saudi Arabia. LIV is a golf tournament … and it’s shaking things up and that’s a good thing
And the inaugural Australian tournament in Adelaide’s west certainly lived up to LIV’s ‘Golf, but louder’ slogan, with 90,000 revellers in sell-out crowds at a three-day party on a golf course.
Open champion Cam Smith described the event as the best he’s ever played, while Phil Mickelson noted the fans’ response had been overwhelmingly positive.
‘I would go as far as to say this is the best event I have ever played. I’m probably biased a little bit, being from Australia, but this is what LIV Golf is about,’ said the Aussie.
‘The crowd is so young. Not only kids, guys in their 20s and 30s all out there, it’s hard to say it’s not growing the game of golf.
‘You’ve got to wonder how many people are going to pick up the clubs next week and give it a shot.’
Mickelson added: ‘I’m not saying it should happen every week. But what LIV Golf has provided is really a great alternative for the traditional ways of golf, and the people here in Australia have embraced it.’
Norman has repeatedly batted away claims that LIV Golf is little more than a sportswashing project backed by Saudi Arabia and found a powerful ally in Peter Malinauskas.
The South Australia Premier was adamant politics and sport should be kept separate, insisting LIV was not a vehicle through which Saudi Arabia sought to promote itself.
‘LIV is not a representative of Saudi Arabia,’ he said.
‘LIV is a golf tournament […] and it’s shaking things up and that’s a good thing.’
Aussie Cam Smith said the Adelaide event is the best event he has have ever played
Comedian Bert Kreischer was pictured on Sunday at the 12th hole drinking beer
At the Grange, Normal has juggled politics, business and sport. He reckoned the sport bit gets overlooked.
The LIV boss says his product, and Smith’s sport, are shifting the demographic of golf from the PGA Tour’s average of 67 years old.
‘In one year we’ve taken that down, 65 per cent of our viewers and fans are 45 years and younger […] our product, it’s now identified to a younger fan base,’ he said.
And he insisted LIV was happy to work together with the PGA Tour, but would not take a step back in its bid to revolutionise golf.
‘The PGA Tour has got a great tour […] I’m happy for them. I hope they exist and keep existing but it’s their choice of what they want to do,’ Norman said.
‘And if they want to keep putting up road blocks, we’re not going to go anywhere.’
Phil Mickelson said LIV Golf has provided a great alternative for the traditional ways of golf
Norman has been overjoyed by the success of the inaugural event in Australia
He talks of a relegation system, more teams, possible LIV ladies, queues of golfers wanting to join.
Norman: ‘It’s not an imaginary line. That line is already there. […] ‘We have 48 of the best players in the world that we’re very, very happy with.
‘Our goal is to build those franchise values out.’
Mickelson last February said of the Saudis, who bankroll the tour: ‘They’re scary mother****ers to get involved with.’