Greg Norman has revealed he used the lure of a 25 per cent stake in an LIV Golf franchise to convince Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman to join the rebel series, which could receive taxpayer money in an effort to lure it Down Under.
Norman has disclosed the tour’s business model, which will involve Smith and Leishman effectively running an Australian team to compete in a global league next year.
Smith was reportedly paid $140million to quit the PGA Tour and sign with LIV Golf, but the deal also involved the 29-year-old and Leishman being given the keys to a franchise, which Norman wants them to commercialise in Australia.
Greg Norman (pictured at the LIV Golf Invitational in Boston) has revealed that part of Cam Smith’s deal involves running the LIV franchise in Australia
Cameron Smith (pictured at the LIV Golf Invitational in Boston) has come in for heavy criticism for ditching the PGA Tour in favour of LIV Golf’s $140m proposal
‘You’ve got to think about it from Cam’s perspective, he completely understood one thing that other people are struggling to understand: the value LIV Golf brings, and that new value is the franchise,’ Norman told the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘Cam knows about it, but he’s probably a little too young to understand what Kerry Packer did in cricket. He did what he did for the players, creating teams and night cricket … look where it’s evolved to from there with the IPL. The value of those teams in India is incredible. That’s the new value we bring.
‘[Smith] sees the market that Australia presents and the market which, quite honestly, has been starved of high-quality players and new value for the game of golf.
‘The Presidents Cup comes in there once every seven to 10 years, sucks the economy dry and then disappears.’
Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman will will join other LIV players including Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia in operating one of 12 franchises in 2023 in a Formula 1-type concept
Smith and Leishman will join other LIV players including Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia in operating one of 12 franchises in a Formula 1-type concept due to run from 2023.
Norman said the four-player teams would be wearing the same uniforms and that captains would choose new names for their squads.
It has also been revealed that Australian state governments are putting taxpayers’ money on the table to lure Saudi-backed league, with Norman already holding talks with ministers in his search for a course to host an event.
Norman says Smith (pictured) agrees with him about the huge opportunity for LIV in Australia, which he believes has been starved of high-quality golfing talent
When Norman was asked if governments were offering money to lure a tournament, the LIV Golf Chief Executive was blunt.
‘Yeah, definitely conversations have been had. Negotiations will probably pick up here in the next week,’ he explained.
‘There’s been a lot of interest from state governments all the way down to golf clubs.’
Starting in 2023, LIV will run a 14-event global tour, with courses in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria believed to be in the running to host an Australian event.
Norman has revealed that he has been having meetings with state governments to find a venue in Australia. He says he expects to lock a deal this month
Norman won’t reveal which state ministers he has spoken to, but will confirm that he has visited at least two dozen courses to scout potential locations – and so far has only been rejected by Royal Sydney.
‘We’ve been to all the prime states that love to host sporting events,’ he said.
‘The interest in Australia is extremely high.’
Norman expects to lock in a deal this month and has plans to move the tournament around every few years to enable more fans to attend.
Starting in 2023, LIV will run a 14-event global tour, with courses in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria believed to be in the running to host the Australian event
He has rejected the label that his rebel series is a ”breakaway’ league, stating that ‘from day one it was always about being inclusive’.
‘This notion we’re trying to destroy tours is not true. The PGA Tour is trying to destroy us, it’s as simple as that. But the PGA Tour has not sat down and had a conversation with myself or any of my investors.’