The end of the Masters seemed successful for the LIV Golf Tour since the recently formed tour had three players inside the top five, but more met the eye at this year’s first major tournament than just that.
Of the LIV players, four-time major champion Brooks Koepka blew a four-shot lead in the final round, finishing a distant four strokes behind eventual winner Jon Rahm of the PGA Tour. 52-year-old Phil Mickelson applauded himself among the media for his ball-striking ability before finishing tied with Koepka for a self-assured second place. Former Masters champion Patrick Reed fired a four-under 68 in the final round which helped him land in fourth place, however, five strokes back.
After these three, a few additional LIV players made the cut but were never in real contention. Similarly happening as it had three times as a player, LIV CEO Greg “The Shark” Norman fell short again at the Masters except this time may come to hurt worse than his previous second-place finishes.
There’s one thing for sure: Greg Norman is all about Greg Norman and straight-up business. As a kid, I watched this phenomenal golfer who played with an aggression and passion for life that I wanted to have yet always coming up short (apart from two wins at The Open Championship).
In 1993, Norman founded the Greg Norman Company, originally known as Great White Shark Enterprises, after leaving his agency group, IMG. The professional golfer used the shoe-based shark logo for his line of apparel, and it now represents over a dozen different businesses. This was the turning of the tide for Norman in professional business over professional golf following his demise in creating his own World Tour in the 1990s.
The Shark had over 88 professional wins as a player and is the fifth-richest golfer of all time, yet he ultimately selected a so far successful business opportunity called LIV Golf Investments, backed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, who hired Norman as commissioner and face of its tour.
The Saudi government pledged $400 million for 2022 alone ($255 million of which is for prize money) to attract golf’s superstars and further fund a worldwide lineup of large purse tournaments. Adding Norman, his vendetta against the PGA Tour, and changing the rules towards three-day tournaments with teams was essential to making this happen.
One signature problem for Norman and this “alternative” tour is the group behind this investment. The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund is worth over $620 billion, but they have been reported for numerous killings of people along with being the country where a ton of Sept. 11, 2001, vicious attackers on American soil were and had connections.
Although the players of the LIV Tour have no real intention of being part of the Saudi Arabian government nor care where the investments go, these individuals have been banned from the PGA Tour. Therefore, the preparation for major championships, such as the Masters this past weekend, was not there.
Certainly, this gives the competitive golfers, like Koepka, a disadvantage due to the lack of competition. As a professional golfer, more money is great, but having both memorabilia and funds (a green jacket and $3.24 million for example) is exactly what the PGA Tour needed to do.
Players have become icons on the PGA Tour and made a lot of money doing so. Now that the PGA Tour has increased purses as helped by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, the game is in much better shape than it was a few years ago.
There never should be a challenge to working hard and developing the professional game versus going for more money and risking humanity. With all of the philanthropy and money he’s spent, The Shark should know better.
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