HomeSportsLIV chef Greg Norman appears before Masters as a paying customer

LIV chef Greg Norman appears before Masters as a paying customer

Greg Norman is in Augusta this week for the Masters – Getty Images/David Cannon

Greg Norman made a surprise appearance at the Masters on Wednesday as a paying customer and expressed his disappointment that more of his LIV players have not been invited to the first major of the season.

Telegraph Sports revealed on Tuesday that a senior LIV official would be visiting, but no one expected it to be the CEO who has such a torrid Masters history with three second-place finishes.

With negotiations underway between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund – which finances LIV – tensions have clearly thawed, although Norman was ordered to enter the grounds as a member of the public, without access to the inner sanctums of the PGA Tour . clubhouse where the game’s power brokers gather annually.

Norman wasn’t invited last year, tellingly Telegraph Sports: “I always was a big winner, but last year they only sent me a terrain pass and this time nothing, zero. I am disappointed because it is so petty, but of course I will continue to watch.”

He was there to be seen, with his signature fedora and Great White Shark logo. “I’m here because we have 13 players who have won 10 Masters between them,” Norman told the Washington Post. “So I’m just here to support them, do my best to show them, ‘Hey, you know, the boss is here and has your back.’”

Norman believes there should be more rebels in the field. “I think there’s probably been a few overlooked that should be included,” Norman said. “What is that number? “I’m not going to give it a definitive rating, but they are definitely quality players who have put in incredible performances over the last six to nine months that are worth it.”

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LIV chief Greg Norman stuns Augusta by standing up for Masters as a paying customerLIV chief Greg Norman stuns Augusta by standing up for Masters as a paying customer

Greg Norman meets Australian Min Woo Lee – Getty Images/David Cannon

His comments were well timed. Earlier in the media center, Augusta chairman Fred Ridley told LIV players who felt resentful about not playing here that they would be invited if they were good enough.

Talor Gooch, last year’s LIV champion, was so incensed at missing out on the first major of the season that he claimed Sunday’s winner should have an asterisk in his name. But Ridley rejected the idea with a thinly veiled criticism of the quality of the escape circuit.

“I will say that if we felt that there was a player or players, whether they played on the LIV Tour or another tour, that deserved an invitation to the Masters, that we would exercise that discretion regarding special invitations, Ridley at his annual State of the Game press conference.

Ridley pointed out that Augusta did invite an LIV player this year in Joaquin Niemann, after the Chilean won the Australian Open and finished in the top four at the Dubai Desert Classic in January. Gooch’s case was complicated by the fact that the Masters has a practice of sending special invitations only to international players.

Ridley sits on the board of the Official Golf World Rankings, which last year refused LIV’s application for status, meaning the Rebel players have no access to points and so would find it almost impossible to rank in the world’s top 50 to rise.

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Therefore, LIV believes that the majors should provide waivers from their money list. But Ridley almost shut this down. “Currently we use the official World Golf Rankings,” he said. “We believe it is a legitimate determination of who the best players in the game are. There was public communication about, you know, the LIV application, which was then withdrawn after some corrective suggestions were made regarding routes and access to players and concerns about some aspects of team golf.

“I think it will be difficult to set up a points system that has any connection with the rest of the golf world because it is effectively, not entirely, but for the most part, a closed shop. There is some degradation, but not much. It all really depends on which new player they sign.”

Norman: ‘LIV is focused on delivering what we promised the world’

Ridley also confirmed that the club supports plans by the two governing bodies – the R&A and the US Golf Association – to introduce restrictions to limit how far the ball can travel. The PGA Tour has stated that it opposes the new regulations that will be introduced in 2028. By revising the speed at which balls are tested, professionals will lose up to 20 meters with their drivers.

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“I’ve said in the past that I hope we don’t play the Masters at 8,000 meters, but under current standards that’s likely to happen in the not-too-distant future,” Ridley said. “Accordingly, we support the decisions made by the R&A and the USGA as they have addressed the impact of distance at all levels of the game.”

Ridley urged the Tour to accept the proposals. “I certainly hope that will be the case, if it wasn’t it would put a lot of stress on the game which is not necessary right now,” he said.

God knows which way LIV and Norman will jump on the ball issue. They will likely take the populist position if his statements on the final day of practice are any measure.

“When I walk around here today, there’s not one person who said to me, ‘Why did you do LIV?’” he said. “I’ve had hundreds of people, even security people, stop me and say, ‘Hey, what you’re doing is great.’ That says to me that what we have and the platform fits within the ecosystem, and it’s good for the game of golf.”

Norman is not involved in the negotiations, but claimed to be happy with that exclusion. “LIV is completely autonomous in that, to be honest,” Norman said. “I’m not even aware of the talks, which I’m happy about because we’re focused on delivering what we promised to the world.”

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