It’s good to see legendary choke artist Greg Norman is still gagging up something. It wasn’t a major championship lead this time, it was a hot take that’s pretty scorching even for someone shilling for a new golf league. Speaking at a promotional event for the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf league, the former No. 1 golfer offered up quite a rationalization for an alleged government-led operation that led to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“This whole thing about Saudi Arabia and Khashoggi and human rights, talk about it, but also talk about the good that the country is doing in changing its culture,” said Norman, the LIV Golf chairman whose most notable accomplishment in golf was blowing a six-stroke Masters lead in 1996.
“Look, we’ve all made mistakes and you just want to learn by those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward.”
If you don’t remember the U.S. intelligence report that said Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, orchestrated a plot that led to an assassination of a Washington Post journalist, it was a pretty big deal and definitely not a “mistake” along the lines of leaving the garage door open. It’s also likely one of the reasons Phil Mickelson called the Saudis “scary motherfuckers.” There was even a documentary made about it. Of course, bin Salman denies any involvement.
If you want more of Norman defending his new business partners to an unapologetically heinous degree, you’re in luck because he wasn’t done.
“I haven’t had a personal conversation with MBS, I’ve never met the guy, but at the same time I do read that the Saudi government has made their statements and comments about it and they want to move forward,” Norman said Wednesday.
First, you don’t move forward after a murder, you move into a prison cell.
Second, there’s no better way to make a person sound disarming than to refer to them by their initials. Bin Salman isn’t Neil Patrick Harris, no one lovingly refers to him as MBS — except maybe BFF and noted humanitarian plague Jared Kushner. (When does the How I Met Your Mother spinoff, How I Met Your Murderer, starring MBS and Kush begin? And is MBS’ schtick jovially picking up journalists and dismembering them?)
This isn’t the first time Norman has been a level above outspoken while pimping out the LIV Golf league. Earlier this month, he said Mickelson’s comments were the reason players defected en masse.
Yeah, Shark, it was Phil’s fat mouth and not the Khashoggi murder, or the Saudis track record on human rights. There are really any number of reasons to avoid getting into business with bin Salman, and maybe Mickelson inhaling his spikes off the record shoved those drawbacks into the spotlight, but any moron with the internet could figure it out with a quick Google search.
Well, maybe not any moron.
I’m not sure if the PGA Tour is trying to save its players from making the same mistake Mickelson did, or if it actually views the LIV league as a rival, but whatever the case may be, golfers will not be allowed to play in LIV’s inaugural event in London in early June.
The tournament runs the same weekend as the Tour’s RBC Canadian Open stop, so obviously there are competing interests.
“As a membership organization, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the PGA Tour and its players,” Tyler Dennis, the Tour’s senior vice president and chief of operation, said in a statement.
Players like Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris backed the tour’s decision, with Scheffler saying he “kind of figured that was something that would happen,” and Zalatoris calling the move “the perfect response.”
Right now, the PGA has all the leverage and idiots like Norman and Mickelson are only hurting the case for a rival league. I could give a shit about the LIV league or its long-term viability. If there was ever a rival group worthy of having an expensive investment backfire on them, it’s the Saudis.
However, there’s a real argument that lower-level players are getting the graphite shaft as far as compensation and wages are concerned. Mickelson even put on a cape for their cause — granted it seems like he might’ve been motivated by his own financial shortcomings rather than the cause of his fellow PGA members. Regardless, Lefty’s buffoonery doesn’t negate the report that most professional golfers “struggle to merely support themselves” due to the Tour’s independent contractor model.
Is anyone really surprised that the people with the biggest grievance and least amount of power are fucked over and forgotten as a result of all this mess? Absolutely not.
The PGA Championship tees off next week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tiger Woods and Mickelson are in the playing field, and Norman and the Saudis will still have gobs of blood money to comfort them when the LIV league goes down in flames.
Oh well. C’est la vie.