‘Look what happened’: Greg Norman credits LIV contenders for Masters ratings spike

Greg Norman at the qbe shootout.

Greg Norman's LIV Golf begins its fourth event of 2023 on Friday in Australia.

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LIV Golf is back in action this week — in Adelaide, Australia — its first tournament since three of its members were among the top-six finishers at the Masters two weeks ago.

While Jon Rahm won by four, Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson tied for second, and Patrick Reed tied for fourth with Jordan Spieth. Koepka, Mickelson and Reed all left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf — and Koepka was the tournament leader virtually all week — and their strong play did not go unnoticed by LIV executives.

Those players still, however, aren’t allowed on the PGA Tour, and earlier this month The Times of London reported that the DP World Tour won its arbitration case vs. its LIV, allowing the reinstatement of fines for and suspensions of LIV defectors.

Greg Norman, the CEO of LIV Golf, touched on that recent ruling, the future of his league and more during a press conference in Adelaide on Thursday, as LIV readies for its first fourth event of the season.

“I do hope there gets to a position where there is resolution to this, because the game of golf doesn’t need to suffer. These guys don’t need to suffer. OWGR doesn’t need to suffer,” Norman said. “Augusta National recognized that, and look what happened with their ratings when the LIV players came in. It was up 19 percent. Who was the benefactor of that? Augusta National, right?”

Norman is referring to the final round of the Masters, which saw a massive ratings increase over Scottie Scheffler’s win the year before. According to CBS, the fourth round averaged 12.058 million viewers and peaked with more than 15 million from 7 to 7:15 p.m., around the time Rahm won. It was the most-watched golf telecast on any network in five years.

This year’s Masters had much going for it: juicy PGA Tour vs. LIV storylines (the first time they played together since last year’s Open Championship, and the first time at a Masters); the return of one of the most dominant major players of the last decade (Koepka, who almost won); a late Mickelson surge; and a more tightly contested final round. Rahm’s winning margin was four, but it was only two with eight holes to play.

The PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf major tension isn’t going away anytime soon. LIV players are allowed in the three remaining majors of 2023 as well.

“LIV is the force for good, and now guys want to play,” Norman said. “They want to play in the majors. You don’t think CBS, NBC, you don’t think the corporations that sponsor those major championships don’t want Cam Smith, the Open champion, in their major tournament? Of course they do. It’s a crying shame if they take their shallow view of, caused by LIV, where because of another product they’re going to ban these guys? Well, I think Augusta National proved that case point very clearly.”

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