LIV Golf's Greg Norman Rips 'Hypocrite' Jack Nicklaus, 'Brainwashed' Rory McIlroy

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJune 6, 2022

HEXHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 05: Greg Norman during the prize giving ceremony following Day Four of the International Series England at Slaley Hall on June 05, 2022 in Hexham, England. (Photo by Luke Walker/LIV Golf/Getty Images)
Luke Walker/LIV Golf/Getty Images

Greg Norman took aim at Rory McIlroy and Jack Nicklaus as the LIV Golf series prepares for its inaugural event.

The golf legend told the Washington Post's Kent Babb that McIlroy is among those who have been "brainwashed" to come out against the breakaway golf tour that's backed by Saudi Arabia.

Norman spoke about Nicklaus, who said he said he turned down a nine-figure offer from LIV Golf, in even harsher terms. Nicklaus also explained he had "zero interest in wanting to do something like that" in reference to LIV Golf.

"One hundred percent truth? Jack’s a hypocrite," Norman said. "When he came out with those comments, I’m thinking: Jack must have a short memory."

Norman contends Nicklaus was present for a LIV Golf presentation and wrote in an email that the project was "good for our game."

LIV has received steady criticism for its connection to the Saudi regime. The venture is funded by the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund.

This is part of a larger trend in which repressive regimes around the world are widening their footprint in sports to improve their public image. The Public Investment Fund also purchased Newcastle United FC of the English Premier League in 2021.

Phil Mickelson summed up the general concerns about LIV when he told Fire Pit Collective's Alan Shipnuck that the Saudis were "scary motherf--kers" who "have a horrible record on human rights." Mickelson also referenced the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist whose death U.S. intelligence officials said was ordered by Saudi officials.

That Mickelson would nevertheless join with LIV Golf is for critics a sign of how willing some golfers are to put their personal finances ahead of principles.

Over time, participation in LIV Golf could grow to become more normalized with more of the sport's stars signing up. For now, the general condemnation toward the endeavor is unlikely to subside.