Greg Norman, the chief executive and commissioner of the LIV Golf Invitational Series, will travel to Washington this week to discuss the new organization with members of Congress.
The PGA Tour banned the golfers who defected to LIV, which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. The U.S. Justice Department reportedly is investigating the PGA Tour for potential antitrust violations over its reaction to LIV, a probe that could determine the tour’s ability to control where and when its golfers play. Plus, LIV has joined a federal antitrust lawsuit filed by some of its players against the PGA Tour, arguing their careers were hurt when the tour suspended them after they joined LIV.
Politico on Monday was first to report Norman’s meeting with members of Congress. Last month, it also reported LIV hired Hobart Hallaway & Quayle Ventures to lobby on its behalf in Washington. Former U.S. Rep. Benjamin Quayle (R-Ariz.), the son of former U.S. vice president Dan Quayle, is a partner at Hobart Hallaway & Quayle. Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President George W. Bush, also has done public relations work for LIV, which has played one tournament at a course owned by former president Donald Trump and will play another at a different Trump course in October.
Politico added that the PGA Tour also hired a lobbying firm, in this case DLA Piper, in its battle against LIV, which reportedly has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to lure big-name stars such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau away from the PGA Tour.
Those golfers and others have cited a more relaxed schedule and bigger paydays as reasons they have left the PGA or European tours for LIV, which has been accused of being Saudi Arabia’s attempt to “sportswash” its human rights violations, including the 2018 killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. LIV tournaments are only 54 holes — compared with 72 for most PGA Tour events — and have much smaller fields and no cuts, meaning every golfer in the field is guaranteed to win money no matter where they finish on the leader board.
LIV’s viability may depend on whether the Official World Golf Ranking begins to recognize its tournaments. LIV has petitioned the OWGR for recognition; without it, many of its golfers will be unable to qualify for major championships because of declining world rankings.
The fifth tournament of LIV’s inaugural season ended Sunday outside Chicago, with the British Open champion Smith winning. The series has yet to secure an over-the-air television deal, and its tournaments are being streamed on YouTube and on its website. According to one analysis, this past weekend’s LIV tournament — the first in which the final round went up against spotlight-hogging NFL games on Sunday — garnered the fewest views of any of LIV’s first five events.