A Saudi-backed golf series is set to formally launch with World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman as its commissioner, according to a report from Golfweek. The report states that officials held a private meeting with “golf media members” on Wednesday in New York City to discuss details ahead of an official announcement; Golf Digest, which was not included in Wednesday’s meeting, is scheduled to meet with Norman on Monday.
Norman has long been linked to the new venture, which seeks to challenge the PGA Tour’s position as the pre-eminent golf tour by offering lucrative, guaranteed contracts to stars. Representatives for the upstart circuit have been hanging around golf circles for more than a year pitching their vision for an 18-event season that would feature much smaller fields than PGA Tour events. How much of that vision will come to fruition initially is unclear. Previous reports have named Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau as some of the stars reportedly mulling offers as high as $50 million.
The PGA Tour has taken a hard-line stance against a potential rival, with PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan saying at a players meeting in May that any player who takes up membership with the new tour would risk suspension and losing his PGA Tour playing privileges. The tour’s creation of the $40 million Player Impact Program, a way to reward stars regardless of their on-course performance, was widely seen as a response to the Saudi-backed proposition. The tour has also leaned into its “strategic alliance” with the European Tour, while the upstart league reportedly made a $100 million investment in the Asian Tour.
Norman has a long history of pushing a global tour that would serve as an alternative to the PGA Tour. He served as the driving force behind a proposed World Golf Tour in the 1990s that failed to gain significant traction but did indirectly result in the creation of the World Golf Championships, which have been whittled from four events in recent years to just one this season.
A number of high-profile players including Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas have said they are not interested in leaving the PGA Tour ecosystem in favor of a new league that would require them to play all 18 events rather than hand-pick their schedules. Others, such as Mickelson, have suggested they are open to listening to proposals and believe there are weaknesses in the PGA Tour’s current structure.