Golf is in turmoil because it braces for the launch of a brand new Saudi-backed breakaway tour however figurehead Greg Norman is assured it will likely be a hit regardless of a number of unresolved points.
The LIV Golf Invitational Collection plans eight occasions this yr however no participant names have but been introduced.
There’s additionally uncertainty over broadcast offers and whether or not rating factors will probably be on provide.
Questions over the supply of the funding persist — with Norman grilled over considerations about Saudi backing for the brand new tour when he confronted the press in Britain final week.
The battle strains have been drawn, with the US PGA Tour refusing to launch members for subsequent month’s opening occasion in England, which clashes with the PGA’s Canadian Open.
The DP World Tour, previously referred to as the European Tour, has been extra opaque, saying it’s “evaluating every request on a case-by-case foundation”.
Former world primary Norman, chief govt of LIV Golf Investments, accused the US PGA Tour of “perpetuating its unlawful monopoly on what needs to be a free and open market”.
Six-time main winner Phil Mickelson and former world primary Lee Westwood have requested for permission to play within the inaugural LIV occasion on the Centurion Membership in St Albans, outdoors London, and Sergio Garcia’s title can also be understood to be within the body.
However others have rejected the brand new golf circuit, together with world quantity two Jon Rahm and four-time main champion Rory McIlroy, as gamers collect in Tulsa, Oklahoma for the PGA Championship.
Two-time British Open champion Norman, 67, seems unperturbed by the shortage of assured star names only a few weeks away from the beginning of the 54-hole event, which takes place from June 9 to 11.
The Australian believes, in the long run, the highest gamers will probably be drawn to the brand new tour, however he doesn’t assume it wants the largest stars to be a hit from the beginning.
“If not one of the high 20 wished to return in, we’re nonetheless going to go forward,” he stated.
“There’s nonetheless worth in there. Think about if that 15-year-old child TK (Thai golfer Ratchanon “TK” Chantananuwat)… got here in and received if he is taking part in right here, if he received the primary occasion.
“He is the subsequent celebrity. We’re giving that chance to that child or an newbie to return in right here to have that chance.”
Norman stated he had spoken to “50 to 60 gamers” and so they have been beginning to realise their rights as unbiased contractors to play the place they wished.
He’s adamant that he’s not spoiling for a struggle however is braced for a authorized battle and has pledged to pay gamers’ fines if vital.
Cash is actually not a problem for the LIV Collection, with an eye-watering $25 million of prize cash on provide at every regular-season occasion, the place gamers will compete as people and in groups.
Norman final week introduced the tour had been given an additional $2 billion in funding to increase the schedule.
However the supply of that cash — the Saudi sovereign wealth fund — is proving controversial, with Amnesty Worldwide adamant that the tour is one other instance of the “sportswashing” of Saudi Arabia’s human rights document.
There are a sequence of different unknowns even because the spectator stands go up at Centurion Membership, together with how will golf followers be capable of watch the event?
Chief industrial officer Sean Bratches, former managing director of economic operations at F1, stated LIV was aiming for “broad distribution” on-line and was in discussions with extra conventional broadcasting companions.
“We haven’t any offers signed as a result of we’re proper out of the gate,” he stated. “Once we signal a deal we’ll announce it.”
There’s additionally the thorny query of rating factors — will top-level golfers be pleased to play in occasions with no factors on provide?
Once more there isn’t any clear-cut reply, despite the fact that chief working officer Atul Khosla stated tour chiefs had held talks with world rating officers.
“I do not know that we’ll get it for the primary occasion due to the character of how lengthy it takes for the applying to undergo and the method one must undertake,” he stated.
“However we’re hopeful that we will get them for this yr onwards.”