LIV Golf: Golf legend Greg Norman pressed behind closed doors in ‘lively’ GOP discussion of Saudi-backed LIV tour

Norman, traveling to Washington as part of a public relations campaign to sell lawmakers on the benefits of the new PGA Tour rival, was also questioned during the Republican Study Committee meeting on Saudi funding for his league.

LIV Golf is backed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia – a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia – and has pledged to allocate $250 million in total in price.

Rep. Chip Roy, a Republican from Texas, suggested he didn’t mince words with Norman, who told the Republican the purpose of his tour was “competition” – a claim Roy thought was “a no -sense”, although he said he would be happy to sit down and talk more about it with Norman.

“Don’t sell us, ‘It’s just about competition’ when they won’t meet about a billion dollars to buy PGA players, which will result in a billion public relations dollars for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Roy told CNN, claiming they may be in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

LIV Golf has spent huge sums poaching top players from the PGA Tour, seemingly offering nine figures to people who sign with the new league and huge purses to winners of its tournaments. Early August, Confirmed Norman on Fox News, golfing legend Tiger Woods turned down an offer worth around $700-800 million to join LIV Golf.

Rep. Jim Banks, the chairman of the Republican study committee, told CNN it was “hotly discussed” and that overall Norman was “well received by our members.”

The Indiana Republican noted that Norman asked to meet with his group, which has regular meetings with outside guests.

“Some members touched on Saudi-backed funding. That came up in the discussion, and Mr. Norman touched on those issues,” Banks said. “I explained how the investment fund is set up and other investments they have made in the United States. I promised to sit down with the members individually.”

Banks said “there was no request” from Norman for Congress to act on the league’s behalf and that the purpose of the meeting was more “public relations” than anything else.

Banks added: “If Tiger Woods wants to come and talk about the PGA and his issues with LIV Golf, we’d like him to come too.”

“Extremely disruptive”

LIV Golf players were barred from participating in this week’s Presidents Cup, a biannual competition between an international team and an American team, which begins on Thursday.

For international captain Trevor Immelman, it has proven to be a selection headache with players like the Open champion Cameron SmithChilean Joaquin Niemann and South African Louis Oosthuizen banned from playing.

“I would say extremely disruptive is probably an understatement,” Immelman told CNN Sport’s Don Riddell. “It has certainly been an interesting process.”

Players practice on the driving range ahead of the LIV Golf event in St. Albans, England in June.
The American team was exposed to the same problem with Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson De Chambeau all unavailable after switching to the LIV Golf series.

But opposing captain Davis Love III arguably has more depth at his disposal than Immelman, who lamented the absence of some “incredible players” from the team.

The international team has an unfavorable record in the Presidents Cup having won only once in 13 editions of the competition.

“Over the last year or so as these rifts (between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour) started to happen, every player on our team knew exactly what the rules were and knew what decisions they had to make to have the opportunity to compete in the Presidents Cup,” he added.

When asked if he would miss Smith, Niemann and Oosthuizen, Immelman said: “These guys are incredible players. They are players who have played in the Presidents Cup. They have the experience of being in this cauldron, understanding what it takes. But, you know, like I said, they knew the decisions they had to make to be eligible for the Presidents Cup.

“All of this information was part of their decision-making process, so communication was very open. Everyone knew exactly where they stood and they 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 ends on Sunday.

CNN’s Don Riddell and Jack Bantock contributed reporting.