Greg Norman: All 18 LIV golfers at the Masters could celebrate on Augusta’s 18th
Eighteen LIV Golf players will be at this week’s Masters, and should one win, all could celebrate on Augusta National’s 18th hole, Greg Norman says.
In an interview with NewsCorp on Saturday, the LIV CEO said that the players have told him of the idea. The Saudi-backed league is playing its third event of the year this weekend in Florida, and then about a third of the 48-player field will travel to Georgia.
“There’s talk in our teams all around here,” Norman told NewsCorp, “there are 18 of us LIV guys at Augusta, and if one of the guys, no matter who it is, they are all going to be there on the 18th green, they are all going to be there, and that just gives me goosebumps to think about.
“When you walk up 18, your caddy hugs you, then you see your wife or your mom and dad. Now to have those 17 other guys there, that’s the spirit we want. That’s what these guys talk about. They are saying no matter who wins, no matter who is in that position, we are going to be there.
“And that just gives me goosebumps to think about.”
Norman’s comments come as the 18, including six former Masters winners, will play at Augusta, albeit controversially. To note, no LIV golfers are allowed on the PGA Tour. And Augusta chairman Fred Ridley, five days before Christmas, even issued a statement on LIV eligibility — along with a scolding.
“Regrettably, recent actions have divided men’s professional golf by diminishing the virtues of the game and the meaningful legacies of those who built it,” the statement said. “Although we are disappointed in these developments, our focus is to honor the tradition of bringing together a preeminent field of golfers this coming April.
“Therefore, as invitations are sent this week, we will invite those eligible under our current criteria to compete in the 2023 Masters Tournament. As we have said in the past, we look at every aspect of the Tournament each year, and any modifications or changes to invitation criteria for future Tournaments will be announced in April. We have reached a seminal point in the history of our sport. At Augusta National, we have faith that golf, which has overcome many challenges through the years, will endure again.”
In the interview with NewsCorp, Norman said the Masters is now the “Super Bowl” because of the decision.
“I compliment the Masters on letting the players play because now they have got the best field and they are actually now the true Super Bowl,” he said.
“But if I‘m the Masters right now, I would want, on Sunday, DJ or Brooks or Cam, any of the guys against Rory (McIlroy) and Jon Rahm. Can you imagine what the TV ratings would be like?”
Also in the interview, Norman said LIV has sped up the greens at its event this week, held at Orange County National, in an effort to prepare its group for Augusta. The 18 players are Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed, Charl Schwartzel, Bubba Watson, Abraham Ancer, Bryson DeChambeau Talor Gooch, Brooks Koepka, Jason Kokrak, Kevin Na, Joaquin Niemann, Louis Oosthuizen, Mito Pereira, Thomas Pieters, Cameron Smith and Harold Varner, with the first six all Masters winners.
Of course, it goes without saying that a LIV celebration on 18 would cause a stir, to put it lightly.
We’ll find out in a week.