Jack Nicklaus says he was originally offered more than $100 million to help lead the LIV Golf Invitational Series.
"I was offered something in excess of $100 million by the Saudis, to do the job probably similar to the one that Greg is doing," Nicklaus told Michael Bamberger of The Fire Pit Collective. "I turned it down. Once verbally, once in writing. I said, 'Guys, I have to stay with the PGA Tour. I helped start the PGA Tour.'"
Greg Norman, the Australian golfing legend, now serves as the CEO of LIV Golf and has been publicly spearheading the Saudi movement to create a rival to the PGA Tour.
The LIV Tour boasts guaranteed purses for players and a $255 million prize pool over its eight-event schedule. While several major names have been at least tangentially linked to the tour, its association with the Saudi government has turned many players and fans off.
Saudi Arabia's government has been accused of numerous human rights violations under its current leadership, including the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Phil Mickelson, who has been the most prominent name linked to the LIV Tour, took widespread criticism for insensitive comments he made about the regime.
“They’re scary motherf--kers to get involved with,” Mickelson told Alan Shipnuck of the Fire Pit Collective. “We know they killed Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates."
Mickelson has not played competitive golf since those comments became public. He recently withdrew from the upcoming PGA Championship.
“My advice to Phil? My advice to Phil would be to be patient,” Nicklaus said. “The world is a very forgiving place. But he’s the one he has to decide where he wants to play and what he wants to do.”