Greg Norman was not the first choice to be the face of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, whose Saudi Arabian organizers pursued and preferred Jack Nicklaus, according to the 73-time PGA Tour winner.
“I was offered something in excess of $100m by the Saudis, to do the job probably similar to the one that Greg is doing,” Nicklaus said in a story with Fire Pit Collective. “I turned it down. Once verbally, once in writing. I said, ‘Guys, I have to stay with the PGA Tour. I helped start the PGA Tour.’”
Saudi Arabian organizers launched the new circuit and plan to hold the inaugural event at Centurion Club outside London in June. In addition, five tournaments will be played in the United States and a team match play finale at Trump Doral in Miami at the end of October.
The PGA Tour denied requests from players, including Phil Mickelson, who asked to participate in the London tournament. Players must request clearance to play in the second LIV event by Tuesday.
An unauthorized Mickelson biography, which will be released this week detailing his alleged gambling losses and comments about the Tour and other golfers, has attracted yet more unwelcome attention for the 51-year-old. Previously, Mickelson dismissed Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, including the killing of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi, by saying it was worth getting involved with the Saudis if it meant gaining leverage to get what he wanted from the PGA Tour. Those comments drew fire and Mickelson did not play in this year’s Masters. He last played in an event in January and withdrew from the PGA Championship this week despite being the defending champion.
“My advice to Phil? My advice to Phil would be to be patient,” Nicklaus said in the story published on Monday. “The world is a very forgiving place. But he’s the one – he has to decide where he wants to play and what he wants to do.”