Here’s why Greg Norman ‘feels sorry’ for LIV Golf’s critics

Greg Norman at LIV Golf Adelaide

Norman had words for critics after a well-attended LIV event.

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It was a festive three days at LIV Golf Adelaide, in Australia, with rowdy crowds and record-setting attendance for the breakaway circuit. And when the final putts dropped and the throngs dispersed, the celebration kept on going, turning into a pity party.

“I actually feel sorry for them,” LIV CEO Greg Norman said.

The objects of his sympathy, Norman said, in an interview with Australian Golf Digest, were LIV Golf’s critics, a benighted bunch in Norman’s view.

“Vindication is not the right word,” he said. “It’s the ignorance of others who simply didn’t understand what we were trying to do.” 

Norman’s comments came in the wake of an event that drew more than 94,000 fans to the Grange Golf Club, the most for a LIV Golf tournament since the league’s launch nearly two years ago.

Pleased by the numbers, Norman said that he was also grateful for the chance to give fans in his home country the kind of sporting entertainment they deserved. 

“The support Australia gave me during my own playing career for decades was something I have never forgotten,” he said. “It’s why I brought LIV Golf back home. I did it for them. The people have well and truly spoken.”

For all the big names it has poached from the PGA Tour, and despite the bottomless bankroll behind it, LIV has hardly killed it on the ratings front with its team format, 54-hole tournaments. But in relative terms, Australia has been a receptive market. Last year’s event at Adelaide, which drew some 77,000 fans, was the best-attended LIV tournament of 2023.

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In its short life, the event has gained a reputation as LIV’s answer to the Tour’s famously raucous Waste Management Phoenix Open. Though Adelaide draws nowhere near the same size crowds, its spectators have shown a similar affinity for non-traditional golf behavior. This week, for instance, at the par-3 12th, which is known as the “watering hole” for its loud and well-lubricated atmosphere, Lucas Herbert’s caddie was struck in the back of the head by a water bottle flung by a fan after Herbert drained a birdie putt. The caddie, Nick Pugh, was not injured, but the incident was a sobering reminder of how quickly rowdy conduct can get out of hand.

By tournament’s end, the crowd had other reasons to get excited. While American Brendan Steele won the individual competition, the team portion of the event went to Ripper GC, captained by Australian star Cameron Smith. His squad won in a playoff over Stinger GC. 

Not everyone was thrilled with that result, or the fan behavior that accompanied it. On the first hole of the playoff, Dean Burmester of Stinger grew visibly frustrated with the partisan crowd, which cheered when he left a shot in a green-side bunker. Earlier in the day, Burmester had reportedly told the crowd to shut up with a command punctuated by an expletive.

None of which appeared to weigh on Norman, who, in the afterglow of the proceedings, said that pity wasn’t all that he was feeling.

“I’m feeling extremely proud right now,” he said. “With what we’ve gone through over the past 16 months, both as a league and what I’ve copped personally, the hatred, this makes it all worthwhile.”

Josh Sens Editor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.

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