LIV Golf CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman said Tuesday that he has been asked not to attend the QBE Shootout, which he founded and has hosted since 1989.
The 54-hole tournament between two-man teams will be played on the Norman Design Gold Course at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida, December 9-11.
“Unfortunately, after 33 consecutive years of playing every Shootout — a co-sanctioned PGA Tour event — since its founding in 1989, I have been asked not to participate this year,” Norman wrote on Instagram. “Why, one might ask? Maybe I’m giving golf a new pulse, creating new value and helping to deliver a new product that’s loved by players, fans and broadcasters. And in doing so, it’s ultimately like giving players their rights. Independent contractors to benefit from their performance and brand. In some people’s minds, This is very disturbing and evolution is considered a bad thing. I disagree – competition produces good results.
QBE Shootout Director Rob Hartman said the tournament had been in discussions with Norman for months.
“As we get closer, ultimately the decision is to step back and keep the focus on our great philanthropic partners,” Hartman told the Naples Daily News. “When he started this event 34 years ago, it was all about charity and now it’s all about charity. Greg decided he didn’t want anything to distract him from that.”
In July, the R&A decided not to invite two-time winner Norman to the 150th Open Championship celebrations at St Andrews. The R&A said it hoped Norman would be able to participate again in the future “when circumstances permit”.
LIV Golf, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, joined a handful of players as plaintiffs in a federal antitrust lawsuit filed against the PGA Tour last month. The plaintiffs allege that the PGA Tour improperly barred golfers from playing in LIV golf events and illegally used its monopoly power to suppress competition.
“Change is good,” Norman wrote Tuesday. “Professional golf product evolution and innovation has been essential for decades — just ask the next generation of golf enthusiasts.”
According to Norman, the QBE Shootout has raised more than $15 million for charities.
“These charities, their missions, and the financial support they receive each year from the Shootout tournament’s donations are very important to me and my family,” Norman wrote. “As such, I have decided not to participate in this year’s event so that I can focus on the missions at hand.”
Norman founded the tournament, then called the RMCC Invitational, at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California. It was later called Shark Shooting and moved to Naples in 2001.
In the year At the 1994 Shark Shootout, Norman met behind closed doors with PGA Tour players to discuss his ideas for a new World Tour. The plan involved 30 to 40 players competing in eight tournaments for purses of $3 million. It has reportedly secured a 10-year commitment from Fox to televise the tournament. Norman’s idea for the league never got off the ground.
At the time, the PGA Tour said it would bar its members from participating in World Tour events, saying it would do so “in compliance with our television broadcast and conflict of interest rules.”