Greg Norman Accused of ‘Pimping $1 Billion of Saudi Money’

Boston, Massachusetts, United States; LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman before the second round of the LIV Golf tournament at The International – Richard Cashin-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

Greg Norman has been accused by US lawmakers of “pimping $1 billion of Saudi Arabian money” and spreading “propaganda”.

Norman, the CEO of LIV Golf, spoke to several high-ranking US politicians on his visit to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, and his input was welcomed in some quarters as the debate over the PGA Tour and anti-competition rules intensifies.

But some of the congressional representatives who agreed to address the media after Norman’s 20-minute appearance before the Republican Study Committee were not at all complimentary about his lobbying for the Saudi-funded circuit.

“Don’t come here and act like you’re doing something great, while you’re pimping out a billion dollars of Saudi money,” said Chip Roy, a representative from Texas.

“I respect Greg and his [right] to go out and do what you want to do. But it’s not as simple as he tries to make it seem…it’s not about pure competition. Don’t come here and try to sell me something that’s not what you’re really selling.

‘It is not the business of Congress to resolve a fight between a group of billionaires over a game of golf’

“You are selling something that is very much in bed with the Saudis, so that the Saudis can achieve their goal and Greg can achieve his. He has always wanted to have a rival operation to participate in the tour, and he has not been able to until got a billion dollar sugar daddy known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Another representative, Tim Burchett, told ESPN that he walked out of Norman’s talk, in which the Australian tried to give “both sides of the story so they understand what LIV is all about.”

“It’s propaganda,” Burchett said. “I don’t want to hear about it. It’s not the business of Congress to settle a fight between a bunch of billionaires over a game of golf.”

Burchett also posted on Twitter to reference Saudi connections to the 9/11 attacks and the Kingdom’s role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a US citizen.

Norman might have been surprised to find such opposition from the right-wing think tank, particularly as he has close ties to former President Donald Trump. Burchett put his name on a lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court to try to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“They don’t want to talk about Saudi Arabia”

Trump has a stake in LIV with two of his courses hosting £20m events this year, including the big climax in Miami next month. Roy cited Trump’s involvement in his claim that Norman had dodged concerns about laundering sportswear.

“Honestly, they didn’t want to talk about Saudi Arabia,” Roy said. “It was presented as something to go in there and explain that and talk about it, but I felt like it was very clear that they didn’t want to do it. Former President Trump, who is financially interested in LIV by the way, has said this is a billion dollars in publicity for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They’re just writing it off.”

In a social media post, Norman thanked the politicians for meeting with him. “To the 100 bipartisan legislators I have met in the last 24 hours on The Hill: thank you,” he wrote. “Free speech and free enterprise form the foundation on which this country was founded. Competition is a vital part of America’s DNA.”

Norman reportedly told lawmakers that he would testify before Congress, if the issue went that far. The Justice Department has opened an investigation into whether the PGA Tour is illegally trying to block the competition, while LIV Golf and several of its golfers have filed motions against the Tour for suspending members.

Matt Gaetz, one of Trump’s top allies in Congress, praised the two-time major winner for his promise.

“I am very encouraged that Mr. Norman has offered to testify before the House Judiciary Committee during my discussion with him today,” Gaetz said in a statement to ESPN. “He is very knowledgeable about the role of golf in the culture and in the world. I think the country would benefit from knowing more about his perspective.”

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