Greg Norman, CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, said Tuesday that he was asked not to participate in the QBE Shootout, an event he founded and has hosted since 1989.
The 54-hole competition between two-man teams will be held December 9-11 at the Norman-designed Gold Course at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida.
“Unfortunately, after 33 consecutive years of playing and hosting every shootout tournament — a co-sanctioned PGA Tour event — since its inception in 1989, I was asked not to participate this year,” Norman wrote on Instagram . “Why might one ask? Maybe it’s because I’m helping give golf a new heartbeat, create new value and deliver a new product loved by players, fans and broadcasters alike. And with that, finally giving players their rights to independent contractors to capitalize on their performance and brand. In some eyes this is too disturbing and evolution is seen as a bad thing. I disagree – competition breeds excellence.”
QBE Shootout director Rob Hartman said the tournament had been talking to Norman about his role for months.
“Eventually, as we got closer, the decision was made that he would step down and really focus on our amazing charitable partners,” Hartman told the Naples Daily News. “When he started this event 34 years ago, it was all about charity then and now it’s all about charity. Greg just made the decision that he didn’t want anything to distract from that.”
In July, the R&A decided not to invite two-time winner Norman to St Andrews to celebrate the 150th Open Championship. The R&A said it hoped Norman would be able to compete again in the future “if circumstances allow”.
LIV Golf, funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, joined a handful of its players as plaintiffs in a state antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour last month. Plaintiffs allege that the PGA Tour unlawfully suspended golfers from attending LIV golf events and unlawfully used its monopoly power to suppress competition.
“Change is good,” Norman wrote on Tuesday. “Development and innovation of the professional golf product has been required for decades – just ask the next generation of golf fans.”
According to Norman, the QBE shootout raised more than $15 million for charity.
“These charities, their missions and the financial benefits they receive each year from Shootout tournament donations are of the utmost importance to me and my family,” Norman wrote. “As such, I have decided not to attend this year’s event so that I can focus on the missions ahead.”
Norman founded the tournament, then called the RMCC Invitational, at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California. It was later named Shark Shootout and moved to Naples in 2001.
At the 1994 Shark Shootout, Norman met behind closed doors with PGA Tour players to discuss his concept for a new World Tour. The plan called for the top 30 to 40 players to compete in eight events with a prize pool of $3 million. He had reportedly received a 10-year commitment from Fox to televise the tournaments. Norman’s proposed league never got off the ground.
At the time, the PGA Tour said in a statement that it would prevent its members from attending World Tour events “by enforcing our televised exposure and conflicting event regulations.”