‘We will defend you in court’: Greg Norman promises Saudi-backed LIV Golf will stand by rebels

Greg Norman has promised that LIV Golf will pay the fines of any rebel who risks sanction to join his controversial, Saudi-backed breakaway — and even represent them in court.

‘We’ll defend you, we’ll reimburse your fines and we’ll represent you if you want to go down the legal route,’ said Norman yesterday as golf veered towards court battles over the lucrative new venture.

The PGA Tour have said they will not grant players permission to play the first LIV Golf Invitational Series event in St Albans next month, which offers a prize fund of £20million.

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Greg Norman has vowed to ‘defend, reimburse and represent’ any players facing sanctions by participating in the LIV Golf Invitational Series

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With the DP World Tour believed to be following suit, the likes of Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood would be open to penalties should they play.

‘They can fine you, ban you for life or temporarily suspend you,’ said Norman. ‘We have $2billion backing us, we have an incredible legal team and we are still going to defend the rights of the players.’

Norman insisted they had injunctions prepared in case of any bans — which could include the 150th Open at St Andrews in July. ‘We don’t want it to end in a court battle,’ he said. ‘We are prepared for them for whenever that is. We don’t want to go but we are ready to go. We are not going to be stopped.’

Players including Phil Mickelson (left) have been refused permission to compete by PGA Tour

Speaking at Centurion Club, which will host the first event, the LIV Golf chief executive called the Tour’s action ‘anti-golfer, anti-fan and anti-competitive’. He added: ‘Shame on these institutions. The Tour is intent on perpetuating its illegal monopoly.’

But the former world No 1 also faced more tough questions about funding from Saudi Arabia. Norman insisted he has never met — and does not report to — Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

When asked about the 81 executions Saudi Arabia carried out in a single day in March, the 67-year-old said: ‘Quite honestly I look forward, I don’t look back. I don’t look into the politics of things. I heard about it and just kept moving on.’

Norman has also said the kingdom should talk about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. ‘Take ownership no matter what it is,’ he said. ‘We’ve all made mistakes and you just want to learn by those.’

Lee Westwood was also known to have asked for the required release to play the event

When Norman was pressed on whether cutting up a journalist was merely a mistake, the Australian said: ‘I’m not going to go down this road, let’s just stay focused on golf.’

It was a tough end to a day which Norman had said could be the most important in the history of golf for 53 years. Some players joining the series could be named next week, with Norman hopeful the shorter, festival-style format can be golf’s answer to T20.

He can envisage players in the world’s top 10 featuring but insists success does not rely on superstars such as Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods.

‘We don’t need them. If none of the top 20 come it’s still going ahead,’ he said. ‘Imagine if a 15-year-old kid out of Asia came in and won the first event. He’s the next superstar. Or an amateur. That would be the greatest moment in golf.’

The PGA Tour’s decision means players could be sanctioned if they attend the event

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