With his carefully curated image of a man swaggering across the global stage disrupting industries, dictating terms and settling scores, Greg Norman exhibits a delusion common among courtiers who imagine themselves in the vein of those for whom they labor. But far from earning comparison to MBS, or even with Yasir al-Rumayyan, the Crown Prince’s bagman at Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, Norman increasingly calls to mind another legendary figure from the region: Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf.
Al-Sahhaf is better remembered as “Comical Ali,” a derisive moniker he acquired while serving as Saddam Hussein’s spokesman during the Iraq War two decades ago. His every utterance defied ample evidence to the contrary, most memorably his insistence that American troops had been slaughtered outside Baghdad, even as U.S. tanks rolled through the very neighborhood in which he stood. The hapless shilling for middle eastern autocrats and a refusal to acknowledge reality seems eerily familiar today, although Norman lacks the levity provided by Al-Sahhaf’s obvious lunacy.
After a year during which it made a splash, LIV’s novelty value is diminished and the time is nearing when it will sink or swim. Thus Norman is grasping for positives with the same determination he did on many a Sunday night at major championships.
This week, he gamely presented the fact that Justin Thomas took a meeting with LIV—and didn’t immediately squat on the concept—as evidence of the league’s success, while omitting that the conversation took place some time ago and that Thomas has since been vocally loyal to the PGA Tour. The contortions continued when Norman said that Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy “have no idea what they’re talking about” and accused them of being childish for saying he had to be replaced as CEO, before adding that the door to LIV remains open for them, much as a drowning man’s arms are open to anyone who wishes to toss him a life vest.
Despite reports that he could be replaced by former TaylorMade CEO, Mark King, Norman insists his position is secure. “I have got the full support from my chairman. One hundred percent. One thousand percent. There has never been one thing to suggest otherwise. I’m totally confident,” he said, with the blithe assurance he often displayed on Saturdays. But security is scarce in LIV’s well-fed food chain, and Norman knows it.
At the league’s recent season finale in Miami, the chief operating officer, Atul Khosla, was wheeled out to talk about plans for a broadcast rights deal and corporate sponsorship of teams. This week, he was shown the door, leaving a business landscape largely unchanged from when Sean Bratches quit as chief commercial officer seven months ago: no TV deal, no traction with fans, no audience for live streams, no sign of mass player defections, no sponsor interest. Still, Norman’s perfunctory statement confirming Khosla’s departure took care to trumpet LIV’s “successful inaugural season.”
Article By: Golfweek USA.Today