Saturday, May 27

Saudi cash may come to the rescue of Australian golf, but should it be allowed? | Golf

IIt was the talk of the Australian media about golf in Tokyo for the Olympics. Greg Norman, they said, was coming for the Australian Open. He wanted to make him part of a Saudi-backed golf “super league” to throw untold millions into the tournament. Norman wanted to own it.

Now, Norman has not publicly stated that he wants to own the Australian Open, and did not respond when contacted by Guardian Australia this week, however news recently broke that he would be the CEO of LIV Golf Investments, a startup. backed by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund worth half a trillion US dollars. He would also be the commissioner of a proposed 10-tournament “super league” under the auspices of the Asian Tour.

The imprimatur of the Asian Tour would mean that, unlike previously Saudi-backed iterations of a world golf league, the Premier Golf League, the Super Golf League, the tournaments would earn World Golf ranking points and thus legitimacy. And that’s what, ultimately, it looks like Saudi Arabia wants to spend $ 200 million over the next decade.

Critics call it “sports washing,” a public relations exercise to change one’s reputation through sports. Those backing the Saudi intervention will argue that the sovereign wealth fund is a separate entity from the government and thus far enough removed from the kingdom’s dire human rights record.

There’s also the inevitable “whataboutery”, because the show continues elsewhere, right? Australia just staged a 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match. Dustin Johnson has won two Saudi internationals. Lydia Ko has just won the second Saudi Arabia International Ladies Championship. China will host the Winter Olympics despite its crackdown on “dissidents” and ethnic minorities.

Golf Australia has gone to great lengths to involve women and girls in golf. But could you maintain that high ground while taking money from a nation where women can only drive cars, have passports, and travel abroad without a male guardian in 2019? Where does local (Sharia) law say gay people can be stoned to death? Where can “adulterers” be beheaded? Where, according to US intelligence agencies, did Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman order the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Kashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul?

Should Australian golf draw a line in the sand and bring down Norman (who, again, has made no formal or public request that he wants the Australian Open or any Australian event) and his Asian-sanctioned “super league”? Tour?

Or will the game look the other way and find that the enormous sums of money the kingdom continues to exchange for oil are too tempting to pass up? To mark the inaugural National Golf Week, which has been announced in Saudi Arabia and which will “support our ‘Vision 2030’ goals in terms of encouraging as many Saudis as possible to be active, regardless of their age, gender or how good they are. that are. in golf ”?

As Australian amateur golfer Kerry Packer once said: “We all have a bit of a whore. Gentlemen, indicate your price. “

Should Norman come to Australia, so what? Golf Australia, which runs the Australian Open, the Victorian Open and the Queensland Open, and the Australian PGA, which runs the PGA Championship and PGA state tournaments, were, for several years, quite separate entities. , even antagonistic. But recently they have collaborated and share office space and ideas. And if Norman gets in touch, which he doesn’t, they’ll cross that bridge when and if it happens, according to a Golf Australia source who said they “haven’t heard anything since the Olympics.”

PGA of Australia CEO Gavin Kirkman said “we are sitting and waiting.”

“There is a lot going on,” Kirkman said. “That [a super league] it’s been talked about for quite some time. The best we can do, when things work out, is evaluate LIV Investments’ vision and plan. We will wait and see their schedule and how our players might fit in. “

The Australian PGA has no official position on the origin of the LIV money. “We wouldn’t comment on that,” Kirkman said. “Our focus is on our members and creating play opportunities and pathways for them.”

With Covid and quarantine, the Australian Open was canceled for 2021, while the PGA Championship and the Victorian Open (in January and February) will not be co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour (formerly European Tour). Australasian Tournament Director Nick Dastey told RSN radio station that the Australian PGA has “a very strong strategic alliance with the DP World Tour.”

“Our 2022 PGA Championship will be played in late November, early December. That will be part of the DP World Tour. We hope it will be the same for the Victorian Open, ”said Dastey, adding that there is a“ 10-year agreement ”between the Australasian Tour and the DP World Tour.

For all that, Norman’s “super league” remains undoubtedly exciting: Anything that challenges the status quo, hegemony and uniformity of the PGA Tour of America is not a bad thing. Norman wants to grow the game.

“If we have the opportunity to invest and grow the game of golf through our investment dollars in Asia, God bless us,” Norman told Golf Digest. “There is nothing wrong with that, and no one should blame us for doing that. It just kinda bothers me why people feel so against me for wanting to do that through LIV Golf Investments. “

It just depends on how polluted you think the Saudi money backing it is.

Also Read  ANTIGENS TEST RELIABILITY | Are the antigen tests with the Omicron variant reliable?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *