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Rich Beem ‘shocked’ by PGA Tour response to Greg Norman’s LIV; Andrew Coltart: Saga will drag on yet



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Rich Beem and Andrew Coltart reflect on the PGA Tour’s decision not to allow players to be released to compete in LIV Golf events

Rich Beem and Andrew Coltart reflect on the PGA Tour’s decision not to allow players to be released to compete in LIV Golf events

Rich Beem says he was “shocked” by the decision of the PGA Tour to deny players releases to go and play for Greg Norman’s LIV Golf Invitational Series, while Andrew Coltart said the saga will drag on.

On Tuesday, the PGA Tour rejected requests from players for authorisation to play the first Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series event, explaining that the decision is in the “best interests of the Tour and the players”.

In response, Norman branded the PGA Tour “anti-competitive”, and speaking to Sky Sports, Beem admits he was surprised by the PGA Tour’s very firm stance.

“Initially I was shocked to be fair,” he said.

“I looked at it and the way I read it, it says it’s not in the best interest of the PGA Tour to allow this to go on, and I really was surprised by that.

“I was a little bit taken aback because I kind of expected them to say: ‘Okay, we’re going to let them go and see what this all looks like. How this all plays out’.

“But they wanted no part of it obviously.

“And it’s interesting that they would cut it off so abruptly, because I think in order to understand how all this might work and what the players think of it, I expected them to allow it and see what happens, I don’t know.

“The players might come back and say that it was a terrible experience, I never want to do this ever again.

“But once again, if you look at the history between Greg Norman and the PGA Tour, and vice versa, it’s never been a healthy relationship.

“I speculate that it’s not just the LIV portion of it. Because Greg Norman’s got something to do with it, I read into the fact that has something to do with why they all got denied the releases.”

World No 1 Scottie Scheffler says he fully understands why the PGA Tour has denied players permission to play in next month's Saudi Golf Series in Hertfordshire

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World No 1 Scottie Scheffler says he fully understands why the PGA Tour has denied players permission to play in next month’s Saudi Golf Series in Hertfordshire

World No 1 Scottie Scheffler says he fully understands why the PGA Tour has denied players permission to play in next month’s Saudi Golf Series in Hertfordshire

Also speaking to Sky Sports, Coltart added that it seems the saga is no closer to being resolved after Tuesday’s events.

“First of all, the PGA Tour came out and said no releases, and there will be an undetermined penalty,” he said.

“And it’s a really interesting choice of language, because there’s nothing specific, so the doubt there creates a little bit of fear. Particularly amongst those players that potentially have a lot to lose if things don’t work out.

“It might not be so important for the guys we know have mentioned it, like Lee Westwood, who’s coming to the end of his career and has a tremendous amount of cash in the bank. He can take that risk.

“For the others, there’s a substantial amount of doubt.

“Subsequently, Norman has said that if fines are going to be issued, they will back them up, and I’m still kind of scratching my head thinking, well where does that leave us?

“At what point does a substantial fine become too much that then a different course of action has to be taken?

“Looking at the grand scheme of things at the moment, things have happened but we’re still nowhere near the end of this dark tunnel I feel.

Gregg Norman told Jamie Weir that LIV Golf Investments is independent and will not answer to the Saudi government or Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud

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Gregg Norman told Jamie Weir that LIV Golf Investments is independent and will not answer to the Saudi government or Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud

Gregg Norman told Jamie Weir that LIV Golf Investments is independent and will not answer to the Saudi government or Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud

“Norman has said this is fixable. And it would be nice to think people were sitting round a table thinking how they could fix it.

“But our understanding is there isn’t that dialogue, and it’s difficult to see where else it could go other than down a certain litigious path.

“This is going to drag on for quite some time.”

Indeed, Beem says despite such a wealth of news about the subject over the last couple of days, there still remains a host of unanswered questions.

“Until we actually know more, until we know players that were going to play but didn’t get releases, and on what the PGA is planning on as far as will they ever allow these players to go to LIV…

“Until we know what Greg Norman’s next move is going to be in trying to help force the PGA Tour, he threatened lawsuits earlier this season, we’re sitting here and it’s just a couple of kids having a spat.

“Unless we know specific details, we could sit here for days like we already have.

“We’re no nearer to a solution.”

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan

One of Norman’s main arguments has been to term LIV as “additive” to the golf season and not competitive, claiming players could play LIV, PGA, DP World and Major events in the same season.

While a nice notion, Coltart says he does not see how it would be possible.

“It’s interesting isn’t it? I like the idea that they can work together, that certainly would make sense for me, but past experience tells me that’s very, very difficult.

“When you look at the top players’ schedules, they’d be lucky if they play more than 20 events a season. We’ve got the majors, the WGC events on top of that.

“And when you’re playing for the vast sums of money they’re talking about, there’s less incentive for those players to play elsewhere, or support either tours.

“Take Jon Rahm for instance, last year he played 21 times in the world, nine times in Europe, and only three of those were actually regular events.

“And he was actually quite a reasonable supporter of the European Tour. So history tells me that as much as it’s a nice idea, and that it’s additive, it’s going to be very difficult to work because the players just don’t want to play that often in a season.”

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