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Greg Norman Manages to Drop Another Major Clanger

By: | Mon 08 Jul 2024

View From The Fairway by Derek Clements

It seems that Greg Norman just can’t help himself. At a time when we finally seem to be nearing some kind of peace deal in the world of professional golf, you would have thought Norman, the front man for LIV Golf, would be keeping his mouth firmly shut. Not a bit of it.

Instead he has once again been taking aim at those who have dared to criticised both the entire concept of LIV and the players who chose to jump ship from the PGA Tour by signing huge contracts with the Saudi-backed circuit.

He said: "I compliment the boys who came over, the first movers. They came on with massive amounts of headwind. The vitriol and hatred was just disgusting to be quite honest with you.

"Considering what these guys have done for the game of golf. And how they have carried the game of golf, and the institutions they represented. It was disgusting."

Norman’s words come amid a period where the stance of even the fiercest LIV critics appears to be softening. Rory McIlroy, who last year backed the decision not to consider players who defected for Team Europe selection in the Ryder Cup, has now called for a change of regulations to allow Jon Rahm to play in the 2025 version. And everybody else involved with the sport seems to be making conciliatory noises.

Greg Norman

So why does Norman insist on trying to stir things up? Surely he would be better employed trying to encourage players such as Talor Gooch to get off his backside and attempt to qualify for majors such as the US Open and The Open Championship

If Gooch really is as good as he seems to believe he is then surely it is not asking too much for him to give up a couple of days of his privileged life to play 36 holes of golf in Open final qualifying? He should be taking a leaf out of the books of colleagues such as Sergio Garcia, Abraham Ancer, Sam Horsfield, Graeme McDowell and Branden Grace, all of whom did precisely that. Garcia and Grace narrowly failed to make it, while Ancer and Horsfield will be at Royal Troon.

Garcia being Garcia, his day at a windy West Lancs did not pass without incident. He was one of several players warned about slow play. It seems slightly unfair. He was being followed by a large crowd and there were no ropes to hold back the spectators, meaning he often had to wait fo this path to be cleared. And he was frustrated afterwards. He said: "It’s very simple. When you have 2,000 people following us with no ropes, nothing.

"The marshals were trying to do the best job they could do but obviously we had to stop pretty much on every tee for two to three minutes to hit our tee shots because people were walking in front of the tee and on the fairway.

"Unless we wanted to start hitting people we couldn’t hit. I don’t think they took that into account and that was unfortunate. It made us rush. On a day like today when the conditions are so tricky and you might need a little of bit of extra time here and there it doesn’t help out. Because of that I made a couple of bogeys that might cost me getting to Troon."

All five of the above-named players understand what the history of the game is all about and know that if you want to leave a legacy then you have to win majors. Garcia and McDowell have each won a major - The Masters and the US Open respectively. And they still desperately want to play in many more. Grace has come close in the past. And Horsfield is a proud young Briton who cherishes The Open.

And let’s not forget Justin Rose. For all that he won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last year and played for Europe in the Ryder Cup, the Englishman has seen his world ranking tumble this year. The result is that he was not exempt for Troon. It would have been all to easy for the former US Open champion to decide that he’d had enough. Instead, he teed it up at Burnham and Berrow. alongside a host of unknowns and golfers less than half his age.

And he finished the 36 holes on eight under par, level with leading amateur Dominic Clemons. Rose first came to our attention at The Open at Royal Birkdale in 1998 as a 17-year-old amateur when he holed his approach on the 72nd hole to finish in a tie for fourth. The Open is in his DNA. The history of the sport runs through his veins.

As a former Open champion and golfer who came so close so many times in other majors, Norman should understand how the likes of Rose, Garcia and McDowell feel. Instead, when things begin to go quiet it is almost as if he believes that he has a duty to rock the boat. And it surely cannot possibly be a coincidence that he almost always chooses the week of a major to come out with his latest outrageous utterances.

There are good reasons why so many of Norman’s LIV golfers were slammed by both the media and those who follow the sport. For a start, most of them vehemently denied that they would be signing, only to perform spectacular U-turns. And prime among those was Rahm, who reputedly received a $500m signing-on fee. Only 12 months ago he was telling anybody who would listen that he would never sign because it wasn’t proper golf.

Norman also clearly forgets the uproar caused by Phil Mickelson’s comments about his future Saudi paymasters before happily agreeing to take hundreds of millions of dollars from their war-chest.

We are just over a week away from The Open Championship at Royal Troon, which is the final men's major of 2024. That means we can all be absolutely certain that Norman will once again be attempting to grab some headlines. He will no doubt bemoan the fact that the likes of Gooch is not in the field and will once again be singing the praises of the LIV golfers who are going to be there. I have no problem knowing that the likes of Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka are probably going to contend - they have both earned the right to be at Troon. But I do have a problem with Norman droning on about it and blowing the trumpet for LIV. Enough!

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Tags: LIV Golf Greg Norman

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