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Why, at age 66, is Greg Norman leading another charge to challenge the PGA Tour?

Together with a capability to drive a golf ball higher than anybody with a persimmon membership, Greg Norman had a eager consciousness of his personal value as a golfer, particularly because it utilized to securing charges for his participation.

Norman makes no secret of this. The Australian golfer who earned the nickname the “Nice White Shark” and suffered heartbreak together with an abundance of success all through a Corridor of Fame profession knew that the most effective golf on the planet was being performed on the PGA Tour in the US.

However he additionally noticed alternative past the tour’s borders, and at all times needed to discover them. Beginning in 1984, when he performed his first full season on the PGA Tour and received his first match on the Kemper Open, he at all times questioned why his capability to play around the globe got here with stipulations.

As a member of the PGA Tour, he had guidelines to stick to and permissions to acquire. And to this present day … it bugs him.

“It nonetheless annoyed me to demise why, as an impartial contractor, I could not get on the market and increase on my true market worth that I really imagine I had,” Norman mentioned. “Similar with all the opposite gamers.”

And right here we’re.

Practically 30 years after Norman first tried to start out a rival tour that will carry the most effective gamers collectively at venues around the globe for assured cash and profitable purses, he’s now the commissioner of an upstart league that has but to be publicly named however is busy behind the scenes working to safe individuals in management roles and several other gamers — who, if signed — would give the enterprise credibility.

Having been anointed the CEO of this new enterprise known as LIV Golf Investments, Norman unveiled a restricted quantity of plans final week.

How this performs out over the next weeks and months shall be fascinating to observe, however Norman’s position is instructive. He — together with the late Seve Ballesteros — battled the PGA Tour’s hierarchy within the early Eighties. Norman sought — with the assistance of Fox Sports activities — to launch a World Tour in 1994 that was finally thwarted by then-PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.

Now he is again for an additional attempt, however with lots of the similar questions nonetheless to be answered.

“I at all times needed to grasp why we have been caught in a field,” mentioned Norman, 66, the winner of 20 PGA Tour occasions and 88 worldwide who was ranked No. 1 on the planet for 331 weeks. “In [1993-94], I considered this concept of how will we get the most effective gamers to play in opposition to one another on extra of an everyday foundation and provides them an annuity into the longer term.

“I at all times thought if I may do one thing for my fellow gamers and carry the burden of accountability … I simply thought there was a greater approach, why I considered this World Golf Tour, the place they might have possession. That is considering out of the field. That is considering like an impartial contractor. Like an entrepreneur. Understanding {the marketplace}.”

This isn’t a purely altruistic endeavor for Norman. He isn’t designating his enterprise pursuits within the Greg Norman Firm to be dealt with by another person merely for the great of his fellow gamers.

Norman shall be paid handsomely for his time, recognition and experience. And with the backing of the Public Funding Fund — the sovereign wealth fund of the Saudi Arabian authorities — there’s a seemingly limitless provide of cash to handle him and all of the wants of the brand new league, together with the scrutiny he’ll face at each flip for being related to the Saudi authorities.

The time period “impartial contractor” is prone to be one which will get numerous consideration as this example strikes ahead. PGA Tour gamers are impartial contractors, however with huge advantages: a pension plan, well being care advantages, weekly perks for being members of the tour.

The FedEx Cup bonus cash is paid out to 150 locations. Purses proceed to go up. Jon Rahm led the cash listing final season with greater than $7 million in official earnings. Patrick Cantlay was second and earned one other $15 million for capturing the FedEx Cup. There have been 67 gamers who earned greater than $2 million in official earnings. One other 57 gamers earned $1 million or extra.

Life on the PGA Tour is fairly good. However the important thing phrase is “earned.” Different sports activities give assured offers, one thing not obtainable for PGA Tour gamers. The chance to do this exists when touring to occasions that can pay look charges. That’s the crux of Norman’s situation. Why are gamers not allowed to freely play the place they need?

As an Australian, Norman needed to help his house circuit, his house occasions. He received the Australian Open 5 instances, the Australian Masters six instances. He additionally received one other 22 Australasian Tour occasions.

However whereas a member of the PGA Tour, he needed to search and be granted releases to go play them.

The tour way back shrewdly arrange a system that requires gamers to signal over their media rights once they turn into members. Meaning they cannot simply play wherever they need. It is why when Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson performed their Las Vegas “winner take all” $9 million match in 2018, the tour obtained a chunk of the motion.

It’s merely defending itself. The tour needs to inform sponsors its gamers shall be obtainable. Therefore it requires them to play a minimal of 15 occasions, and search releases to take part in tournaments staged on different excursions, even exhibitions. It is one of many causes the PGA Tour enjoys a profitable tv contract and might supply purses that make even common gamers very rich.

The variety of releases granted is often three per season. To get greater than that requires negotiation, and the tour seemingly will obtain some type of assure from the participant: an additional begin someplace; a go to to a spot he has not performed beforehand.

All of that appears affordable. Regardless that they’re impartial contractors, they’re becoming a member of a player-based affiliation that has guidelines. You possibly can abide by them or not; Norman at all times did however felt annoyed that he was constricted, as a result of securing 5, six or seven releases turned prohibitive.

The crux right here is {that a} participant who needs to compete on the PGA Tour in addition to this new league Norman is championing will undoubtedly want greater than three releases to make it work. How is it in the most effective pursuits of the PGA Tour to grant them?

“We’re not right here to choose a struggle,” Norman mentioned.

And but, it looks as if that’s precisely what’s coming.

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