Greg Norman, head of the Saudi-backed controversial Leaf golf tourfaced some conservative criticism Tuesday after he met a group of Republican House of Representatives behind closed doors on Capitol Hill.
Norman, who was on a trip to Washington as part of a PR effort to sell lawmakers about the benefits of the PGA Tour’s new contender, was also questioned during a Republican Study Committee meeting on Saudi funding for his league.
LIV Golf is backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) – a sovereign wealth fund headed by Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia – and has pledged to award $250 million in total prize money.
Rep. Chip Roy, a Texas Republican, noted he didn’t utter words with Norman, who told the Republican the point of his tour was “competition” — an assertion that Roy thought was “nonsense,” though he said “I’d be happy to sit down and talk to Norman.” More about it.
“Don’t sell us,” Roy told CNN, “it’s just about the competition” when they don’t answer about $1 billion to buy PGA players resulting in $1 billion in PR for Saudi Arabia. It may violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
LIV Golf has spent staggering sums hunting the best PGA Tour players, reportedly offering just nine numbers for individuals to sign with the new league and huge bags for its tournament winners. in early August, Norman confirmed On Fox News, golf legend Tiger Woods turned down a $700-800 million offer to join LIV Golf.
Representative Jim Banks, chair of the Republican Study Committee, told CNN that it was a “lively discussion” and that Norman in general “was well received by our members.”
The Indiana Republican noted that Norman asked to meet with his group, which holds regular meetings with outside guests.
Some members talked about Saudi-backed funding. This came up in the discussion, and Mr. Norman addressed those issues,” Banks said. He explained how the investment fund was set up and the other investments they had made in the United States. He promised to sit down with the members individually.
Banks said there was “no request” by Norman for Congress to act on behalf of the League and that the purpose of the meeting was “public relations” more than anything else.
Banks added: “If Tiger Woods wanted to come and talk about PGA and his issues with LIV Golf, we’d love for him to come too.”
LIV Golf players were not given permission to play in this week’s Presidents Cup, a biennial competition between an international team and an American team against each other, which kicks off Thursday.
For international captain Trevor Immelman, this proved to be a problem of choice with players such as the Open champion Cameron SmithChilean player Joaquin Neiman and South African player Louis Oosthuizen were banned from playing.
“I would say the massive disruption is probably an understatement,” Immelman told CNN Sport’s Don Riddell. “It was definitely an interesting process.”
But opponent captain Davis Love III arguably has more depth at his disposal than Immelmann, who lamented the absence of some “great players” from the squad.
The international team has an unfavorable record in the Presidents Cup having won only once in 13 editions of the competition.
“Over the past year or so, as these fractures started to occur (between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour), every player on our team knew exactly the rules and knew the decisions they had to make in order to have a chance to play in the President’s Cup.”
Asked if he would miss the likes of Smith, Neiman and Ostwezen, Immelmann said: “These guys are great players. They are players who have played Cup Chiefs. They have experience being in that cauldron, and they understand what it takes. But like I said, like I said, they knew The decisions they have to make in order to qualify for the Presidents Cup.
All of this information was part of their decision-making process. So the connection was very open. Everyone knows exactly where they stand and made the decisions they thought were best for them, and I respect their decisions.”
This year’s Presidents Cup takes place at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina, and concludes on Sunday.