- Greg Norman promoting Saudi Golf League
- First PGA player commits to Saudi League
- Big names on the PGA circuit prefer to distance themselves
Australian golf legend Greg Norman’s controversial Saudi Arabian-backed golf league has landed its first official commitment from PGA Tour player Robert Garrigus.
The American golfer has requested a release from the PGA Tour to participate in the LIV Golf Invitational set to take place at the Centurion Club outside London from June 9-11, 2022.
So far, Garrigus is the only PGA player to apply for a waiver. Meanwhile, speculations are rife that there might be other players who would follow his lead and play in the Saudi-backed event. It is speculated that Norman, who is the controversial league’s CEO and commissioner, might announce the arrival of other participants. Names of players like Lee Westwood, Bubba Watson, Ian Poulter and Kevin Na have been doing the rounds recently. However, Na has declined claims of signing anything.
Having last played full-time in 2018, Garrigus has scored only one victory on the PGA Tour back in 2010 at the Children’s Miracle Network Classic in Orlando, which is presently defunct. In 2019, the 44-year-old was in news for being suspended after testing positive for cannabis.
The PGA requires its members to obtain a mandatory waiver to play simultaneously in the Tour and other events held during the same week. In case of a conflicting event, the event release has to be submitted to the PGA Tour at least 45 days before the first round of the tournament. The PGA has to take a call on any such application 30 days before an event commences.
Earlier this year, PGA officials had approved the release for players who had sought such a release to play in the Asian Tour’s Saudi International, which was held along with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The players had to agree to certain conditions to secure the waiver.
Norman Pushes for Saudi League Despite Criticism
The Saudi league has eight tournaments on its schedule and might include many fringe players from the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour. The event has drawn flak as it is considered Saudi Arabia’s push to sportswash its record of human rights abuse.
Several top players, including pro golfer Rory McIlroy, have maintained their distance from the $3 billion breakaway league. Despite the criticism, Norman has been relentlessly pushing for the event to happen.