FORMER world number one Greg Norman will lead a newly-formed company, backed by Saudi Arabian money, which wants to revolutionise professional golf globally.

Norman was recently named CEO of LIV Golf Investments, which is committed to outlaying more than $270m to 10 new marquee events to be staged annually on the Asian Tour over the next 10 years.

The move represents one of the single biggest investments in the history of professional golf.

The series will be added to the Asian Tour schedule from 2022 onwards, with new events across Asia, the Middle East and Europe. 

It has been designed to drive greater engagement amongst fans, attract new commercial interest and to help stabilise professional golf following a sustained period of worldwide disruption and uncertainty.

“This is only the beginning,” Norman said. 

“LIV Golf Investments has secured a major capital commitment that will be used to create additive new opportunities across worldwide professional golf.

“We will be a cooperative and respectful supporter of the game at every level, and today’s announcement alongside the Asian Tour is the first example of that.

“I have been a staunch supporter and believer in playing and developing golf in Asia for more than four decades. 

“The Asian Tour is a sleeping giant and we share ambition to grow the series and unlock what we believe is significant untapped potential. 

“We see our promotion of these new events as a vital first step in supporting emerging markets, creating a new platform, rich with playing opportunities that create valuable player pathways.”

Greg Norman

LIV Golf Investments has not yet revealed any star signings for the rumoured Premier Golf League project.

However, there have been reports that Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka have been approached.

Norman, a two-time major winner, first mooted a world tour back in the early 1990s, but his proposal was fought off by major tours who introduced World Golf Championship events.

Still, this new proposal renews pressure on the PGA Tour and the European Tour, who formed a strategic alliance late in 2020 after rumours of the Saudi-backed project.

“This is the single biggest development in the history of the Asian Tour and a major milestone for professional golf,” said Cho Minn Thant, commissioner and CEO, Asian Tour. 

“The opportunity will secure unprecedented new playing opportunities, establish new player pathways, allow us to compete commercially with other sports, and enhance our social agenda.

“We are particularly excited at the prospect the landmark announcement brings to the amateur game, providing new inspiration to aspiring players through a new level of top-flight professional competition in the region.”

The series will add to the Asian Tour’s backbone of established events to comprise a 25-event season, expected to represent a record-breaking combined prize-fund in 2022. 

Each of the 10 new events will be broadcast live across the globe, with plans to attract an international field of headline talent through an open eligibility category regardless of Tour affiliation so opportunities are available to the broadest cross section of players.

The new series of 10 events will take place throughout 2022, with all full-field events contributing towards the Order of Merit ranking. 

The Saudi International event, which was previously played under the auspices of the European Tour, becomes the flagship tournament on the Asian Tour with prizemoney boosted to $US5m.

It has been suggested European Ryder Cup players Lee Westwood, Tommy Fleetwood and Graeme McDowell have asked for releases from the PGA Tour to play in the February tournament. 

The others are world number three Johnson, 2016 Open champion Henrik Stenson, Americans Kevin Na and Jason Kokrak and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer.

But it’s been reported that the PGA Tour would refuse to allow players to compete in the tournament. Tour members are required to have a waiver to compete on other circuits.

Because the Saudi tournament is no longer sanctioned by the European Tour, the American outfit indicated to player managers that permissions would not be granted.

Even in Norman’s playing days he had rules to adhere to as a PGA Tour player and had to seek permission to play abroad and that annoyed him and still does.

“I always wanted to understand why we were stuck in a box,” he has argued.

He wants to know why players are not allowed to freely play where they want. 

Anyway, the Shark said he had been a staunch supporter and believer in playing and developing golf in Asia for more than four decades.

“The Asian Tour is a sleeping giant and we share ambition to grow the series and unlock what we believe is significant untapped potential,” he said. 

“We see our promotion of these new events as a vital first step in supporting emerging markets, creating a new platform, rich with playing opportunities that create valuable player pathways.”

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