CEO and Commissioner LIV Golf Greg Norman He said on Tuesday he was asked not to attend the QBE Shootout, an event he has founded and hosted since 1989.
The 54-hole competition between two-person teams will take place on the Norman-designed Golden Course at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida from December 9-11.
“Unfortunately, after 33 consecutive years of playing in and hosting every Shootout – a jointly approved PGA Tour event – since I founded it in 1989, this year I was asked not to attend,” Norman wrote on Instagram. “Why one might ask? Perhaps because I am helping bring a new heart to golf, creating new value and introducing a new product loved by players, fans and broadcasters alike. In doing so, I finally give players their rights as independent contractors to benefit from their performance and their brand.” In the minds of some people, this is considered very disruptive and development is seen as a bad thing. I do not agree – competition breeds excellence.”
QBE Shootout director Rob Hartman said the star has been talking to Norman about his role for months.
Hartmann said to Naples Daily News. “When this event started 34 years ago, it was all about philanthropy then and all about philanthropy now. Greg just made a decision that he didn’t want anything to distract from that.”
In July, R&A decided not to invite two-time winner Norman to the 150th Open Championship celebration in St. Andrews. The R&A Association said it hopes Norman will be able to attend again in the future “when conditions permit.”
LIV Golf, which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, joined a handful of its players as a plaintiff in a federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour last month. Prosecutors accused the PGA Tour of improperly suspending golfers for playing at LIV Golf events, and illegally using its monopoly power to crush competition.
“Change is good,” Norman wrote Tuesday. “Evolution and innovation in a professional golf product has been needed for decades – just ask the next generation of golf enthusiasts.”
According to Norman, the QBE Shootout competition has raised more than $15 million for charities.
“These charities, their missions, and the financial benefits they receive from their Shootout Championship donations each year are of the utmost importance to me and my family,” Norman wrote. “As such, I have decided not to attend this year’s event so that the focus remains on errands at hand.”
Norman founded the tournament, then called the RMCC Invitational, at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California. It was later renamed Shark Shootout and moved to Naples in 2001.
At the 1994 Shark Shootout, Norman met with PGA Tour players behind closed doors to discuss his concept for a new world tour. The plan featured the top 30 to 40 players competing in eight $3 million events. He reportedly secured a 10-year commitment from Fox to broadcast tournaments via television. The league that Norman proposed did not take off.
At the time, the PGA Tour said in a statement that it would prevent its members from competing in World Tour events “by enforcing our television version and conflicting event regulations.”