LIV Golf sparks furious feud in Australia after Adelaide event unveiling

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Greg Norman – Eric Espada/Getty Images

The LIV controversy continues to ignite the golf world with Australia as the latest battleground as politicians clash over news that Adelaide will host an event next year at the Saudi-funded circuit.

Greg Norman appeared at the Adelaide Oval to declare that the city’s Grange course will host the country’s first LIV event and while the league’s CEO stated that he believed people like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy should be grateful being that the start-up Tour has forced the PGA Tour to increase its incentives for the big names, in the background a vicious row unfolded in the corridors of power.

If there was any doubt about LIV’s propensity to divide, then the wide disagreement between South Australia’s incumbent Prime Minister and his predecessor has certainly made that point unquestionable.

Peter Malinauskas stated that this is an “unparalleled opportunity for the state”, while Rex Patrick is adamant that taxpayers’ money should not be used to “help foreign leaders wash away unscrupulous acts such as killing a journalist for doing his job”.

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The murder of Jamal Khashoggi has proved to be a constant backdrop for LIV in its first year as heroes like Cam Smith, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Europe Ryder Cup heroes like Sergio García, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter have been accused of destroying the Kingdom “sportswash.” in exchange for entry fees of up to $200 million.

Joining Norman on the podium, Malinauskas referenced the defense deals between Australia and Saudi Arabia, while simultaneously completing the PGA Tour. “I am very aware of the arguments that the established monopolists in golf are trying to displace for their own benefit. I’m more interested in the facts,” he said.

“I think Australians focus on having an internationalist view of the world that maximizes economic benefit in an appropriate way for the people of our country and our state, but… I encourage a moment of pause, of caution and a rational analysis of basic facts. This is an unparalleled opportunity for our state and our country in a way that is completely appropriate, and one that we should pursue, rather than the opposite.”

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Patrick, meanwhile, acknowledged the financial benefits, but insisted that a price will be paid for the event that will take place two weeks after the Masters in April.

‘It will bring economic activity, but also taint’

“Hosting the Saudi-backed LIV Golf event will bring economic activity to SA, but it will also create stains,” he said. “You [Malinauskas] should explain how you reconciled monetary gain with human rights pain.”

LIV’s 14 event schedule for 2023 is expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks with the Centurion Club – the St Albans layout that hosted the inaugural £22 million – event in June, hosting the England summit two weeks before the Open and Valderrama, the former Ryder Cup course, set the stage for the continent’s first LIV event. The $405 million series is believed to all kick off in Mexico in February.

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Norman was quick to highlight the influence of the Open champion Smith in securing their home country’s place on the LIV calendar. “I honestly couldn’t have done it without someone like Cam Smith willing to commit to Team Aussie,” Norman said. “So for him that came on board and to see how he’s embraced LIV 120 percent and helped the LIV family concept accelerate it all.”

Smith, for his part, welcomed the news, calling it “a goosebumps moment” and also imploring the majors to rise above the ever-escalating Civil War when it comes to involving the Rebel players in their championships.

“I think the majors really should be above all politics,” Smith, the world’s number three, told The Age. “If they really want the best product and the best players in the world playing against each other, they have to let us play. There’s no other reason but to play another tour that would suggest we shouldn’t play. We’re absolutely good enough. We should have those spots.”