Golf news 2022: All the latest news on golf’s civil war between LIV Golf and US PGA Tour

How will Aussie golf tackle the elephant in the room that is the award for the nation’s top golfer still being named after the face of LIV golf, Greg Norman?

The future of the Greg Norman Medal for the nation’s top golfer has become a highly sensitive issue following Norman’s establishment-rocking LIV golf project.

Norman has become an outcast from traditional golfing tours since being the front man of the LIV tour which has raided the ranks of the mainstream tours and signed players such as Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Brooks Koepka.

But, while also a polarising figure in his home country, Norman is still deeply respected in Australia for his double major winning career and his encouragement of local golfers.

Many Australian golfers have stories of getting random messages of encouragement from Norman early in their careers.

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Greg Norman is respected for his encouragement of Australian players including Adam Scott, pictured here receiving the 2009 Australian Open trophy from Norman. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Greg Norman is respected for his encouragement of Australian players including Adam Scott, pictured here receiving the 2009 Australian Open trophy from Norman. Picture: Phil Hillyard

The medal, backed by the PGA of Australia, has been awarded since 2015 to Australia’s best golfer, male or female and British Open champion Cameron Smith - LIV’s latest signing target - is odds-on to win it for the fourth time this year ahead of fellow major winner Minjee Lee.

But there are loose electric threads fizzing in all directions.

In this, of all years, dropping Norman’s name from the medal would be a highly controversial move because it will probably be awarded at a dinner in his home state of Queensland around the time of the Australian PGA tournament which will be played at - wait for it - Norman’s former home course Royal Queensland where Smith was once a pennant star.

Norman does not normally attend the dinner in person but appears on the big screens via a video message.

Do organisers keep his name on the medal but scrap his appearance at the function?

Nothing is off the table.

No decision has been made about the medal but it has been the subject of intense behind the scenes discussions among senior golf officials who feel they are in an unwinnable situation.

Leave Norman’s name on the medal and it will creates ripples of unrest. Take his name off and you’ve got a back page controversy.

The PGA tour of Australia is currently tap-dancing its way through the mine-field of the great golf war between LIV Golf and the traditional tours trying to offend as few people as possible.

Australia has aligned itself with the traditional tours and its two big men’s events of the summer - the Australian Open and the PGA - are both sanctioned by the DP World Tour.

If Smith signs with LIV he is still expected to play in Australia this summer with the DP World Tour quietly telling Australia that any bans they implement on LIV players are unlikely to be enforced in Australia because they don’t want the smaller tours to suffer.

Norman was planning to move home to Australia before being approached to head the LIV venture.

He has told Australia that a LIV tournament will be held in Australia next year and it has been widely rumoured that, apart from Smith, he has fellow Australians Adam Scott and Mark Leishman in his sights with the possibility of an all Australian side competing in the team’s event.

Aussie joins legal fight against PGA Tour

- Brent Read

Australian Matt Jones has joined 10 other players, including Phil Mickelson, in launching legal action against the US PGA Tour.

The players, who were banned by the Tour after joining Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed LIV Tour, want their suspensions lifted.

Jones is among three players who are also asking for a temporary restraining order to allow them to play in the FedEx Cup playoffs, which are due to start next week.

Jones has been banned from the PGA Tour since he announced he would switch to the LIV camp earlier this year.

According to the Washington Post, the lawsuit alleges that the PGA Tour not only has threatened golfers who sought to play in LIV tournaments, it also “threatened sponsors, vendors, and agents to coerce players to abandon opportunities to play in LIV Golf events”.

Matt Jones is among a group of players launching legal action against the US PGA Tour. Picture: Getty Images
Matt Jones is among a group of players launching legal action against the US PGA Tour. Picture: Getty Images

It also claims that the PGA Tour “orchestrated a per se unlawful group boycott with the European Tour to deny LIV Golf access to their members” and “leaned on” groups that put on golf’s four major championships, pressuring them into banning LIV golfers from competing in the sport’s most high-profile events.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland reads: “The Tour’s conduct serves no purpose other than to cause harm to players and foreclose the entry of the first meaningful competitive threat the Tour has faced in decades.”

The outcome will have major ramifications not just for Jones, but also potentially for Australia’s biggest stars Cameron Smith, Adam Scott and Marc Leishman.

All three are believed to be targets for Norman as he looks to boast an all-star Australian team for his tour. Should the existing LIV players enjoy success in the courts, it would make the Tour a more attractive proposition.

Greg Norman is the face of the LIV Tour. Picture: Getty Images
Greg Norman is the face of the LIV Tour. Picture: Getty Images

Smith dodged questions about the subject after he won the Open Championship but TMZ Sport revealed this week that they believed the world No.2 was close to switching camps and taking the huge money on offer on the LIV Tour.

Norman and the LIV Tour, stand accused of sportwashing, where countries use sport to improve their public image. The two-time major winner has splashed hundreds of millions to entice the world’s best players - earlier this week he confirmed that the tour offered Tiger Woods up to $US800 million to join.

PGA’S $600 MILLION REPLY TO NORMAN’S REBELS

Faced with a growing challenge from the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, the US PGA Tour announced a 2022-23 season schedule on Monday offering a record AU$590 million in prize money.

The PGA boosted the prize money at eight invitational tournaments, with The Players Championship set to pay out $35 million, and will offer $206 million in bonus money, including $107 million for the FedEx Cup playoffs, which will be trimmed to 70 players from the current 125.

The move comes as the LIV Golf Series has offered the highest purses in history to lure big-name talent from the PGA to its upstart tour, which is set to rise from eight events in 2022 to 14 in 2023.

Over $100 million is up for grabs in the The FedEx Cup playoffs. Picture: Hunter Martin/Getty Images/AFP
Over $100 million is up for grabs in the The FedEx Cup playoffs. Picture: Hunter Martin/Getty Images/AFP

LIV Golf has drawn protests and claims of “sportwashing” from critics citing Saudi human rights issues but such stars as Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson, Bryson DeChambeau, Paul Casey and Patrick Reed have jumped to the rebel series that debuted in June.

The US PGA, which will return to a season that coincides with the calendar year starting in 2024, tightened its playoffs and boosted select purses after comments from fans, PGA commissioner Jay Monahan said.

“The overwhelming sentiment was they wanted more consequences for both the regular season and the playoffs and to further strengthen events that traditionally feature top players competing head-to-head,” Monahan said. “We feel strongly we’ve accomplished all of these objectives.”

The 2022-23 PGA season will have 47 tournaments, including three playoff events next August with a field of 70 at the St. Jude Championship in Memphis, 50 at the BMW Championship in Chicago and the top 30 in points advancing to the season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake in Atlanta.

After the season ends, late 2023 will feature events for those outside the top 70 to earn status for the 2024 PGA campaign plus a series of “international events” featuring the PGA top 50 in a limited field, no-cut format. No other details were revealed about those events.

The St. Jude and BMW will see a jump in prize money from $21 million to $28 million.

The January Tournament of Champions will see its purse rise from $17 to $28 million next year. It will become the leadoff event of the PGA season when the schedule changes in 2024.

Chief Executive of LIV Golf, Greg Norman (L) and Saudi golf federation Chief Executive, Majed Al Sorour (R) leave the 1st tee on the first day of the LIV Golf Invitational Series event at The Centurion Club in St Albans. Picture: Adrian Dennis/AFP
Chief Executive of LIV Golf, Greg Norman (L) and Saudi golf federation Chief Executive, Majed Al Sorour (R) leave the 1st tee on the first day of the LIV Golf Invitational Series event at The Centurion Club in St Albans. Picture: Adrian Dennis/AFP

Four events will see prize money jump from $12 million to $20 million – the Genesis Invitational in February hosted by Tiger Woods, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in March, the Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial in June and the WGC Match Play in March.

Prize money will jump from $20 million to $25 million for The Players Championship in March.

The Scottish Open, Barbasol Championship and Barracuda Championship will remain co-sanctioned with the DP World Tour.

The 2022-23 campaign will begin on September 15-18 with the Fortinet Championship at Napa, California, with the Presidents Cup the following week at Quail Hollow.

The CJ Cup has been moved from South Korea to South Carolina and will be played in October with the Bermuda Championship the following week.

The Rocket Mortgage Classic, won Sunday by Tony Finau, will start June 29 next year while the 3M Open moves to the end of July.

DECISION TIME: POSTER BOY CLOSE TO CALL IN GOLF’S CIVIL WAR

– Brent Read

Cameron Smith’s future is in the spotlight again after American website TMZ Sports reported that the Open champion was nearing a deal to join Greg Norman’s Saudi-funded LIV Tour.

Smith, who bristled at questions about the LIV Tour after his win at St Andrews, would be the biggest coup for Norman and his fledgling tour, which has been showering sign-on fees to some of the biggest names in the sport.

None of those who have jumped ship can match the recent record of Smith, who has climbed to No. 2 in the world after his win in the 150th Open.

Cameron Smith is reportedly close to making his intentions known about joining the LIV Tour. Picture: AFP
Cameron Smith is reportedly close to making his intentions known about joining the LIV Tour. Picture: AFP

According to TMZ Sports, “our sources tell us they’d be shocked if the deal didn’t happen”. Smith is unlikely to make his plans known until after the Fed Ex Cup is complete on the US PGA Tour at the end of August.

That fits in perfectly with the LIV Tour, which has played three events but will now take a break until early September.

Norman has already spent a truckload of Saudi cash in pursuing marquee names and he has given no indication that he is ready to take the foot off the pedal.

It is understood Smith has been targeted as part of a concerted bid to form a powerful all-Australian team on the LIV Tour — Norman’s dream would no doubt be to partner him with Adam Scott and Marc Leishman.

Smith on his way to winning the 150th edition of the British Open. Picture: AFP
Smith on his way to winning the 150th edition of the British Open. Picture: AFP

Securing the signatures of the three biggest names in Australian golf would also give him more ammunition as he prepares to bring the Saudi-backed event to Australia next year — Sydney has been flagged as the most likely destination.

Smith holds the key. Should Norman and the LIV Tour poach the Queensland star, it would send shockwaves through the US PGA Tour.

The ridiculous money on offer has been reinforced by a report from Forbes that seven of the sport’s highest earners now play on the LIV Tour.

Leading the way is Phil Mickelson, who reportedly received $US200 million as part of his deal to play on the LIV Tour — half of that was estimated to be an up-front payment.

Forbes claimed that Mickelson’s LIV Tour payment made him the highest paid sportsman in the world over the last year, going past soccer legend Lionel Messi.

Australians continue to benefit from the largesse. Unheralded Travis Smyth raked in $US172,000 after he finished 22nd at the LIV Tour event at the Trump National Golf Club over the weekend while compatriot Jediah Morgan finished a whopping 27 shots behind winner Henrik Stenson but still pocketed $US120,000 for his efforts.

Originally published as Golf news 2022: All the latest news on golf’s civil war between LIV Golf and US PGA Tour

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