LIV Golf to launch league next year, India in future plans: Greg Norman

Updated on Sep 18, 2022 08:40 PM IST

The Australian former world No 1 and twice The Open winner is the Commissioner of the LIV Invitational Golf Series. It recently signed up top India player Anirban Lahiri

Anirban Lahiri with Greg Norman in Boston(Credit: Joy Chakravarty) PREMIUM
Anirban Lahiri with Greg Norman in Boston(Credit: Joy Chakravarty)
ByJoy Chakravarty, Chicago

Greg Norman is a visionary of the game or a disruptor-in-chief, depending on who you are asking. He sees India as a big part of LIV Golf’s plans in the coming years after signing up Anirban Lahiri as its first Indian player.

Lahiri, 35, was unveiled two weeks ago in Boston and made an immediate impact at The International course, finishing tied second after losing a play-off to former world No 1 Dustin Johnson.

Norman, the 67-year-old Australian former world No 1 and twice The Open champion, is the Commissioner of the LIV Invitational Golf Series funded by Golf Saudi and the Public Investment Fund (PIF). It aims to create a series of at least 14 tournaments worldwide that includes a team contest. An event in India in the future is a possibility.

“We have decided to launch the league next year and are not going to do another beta season. We’ve gone out there now in the last couple of months to secure venues for 2023. So next year, it’s going to be difficult to get into India because we don’t have much time,” Norman said.

“Beyond that, it’s going to be a very real chance. I am definitely looking at the opportunity to getting LIV Invitational into India. And I mean LIV Invitational and not just the International Series event that we are part of along with the Asian Tour.”

Norman said every player, including Lahiri, was approached and contracted with careful thought and due diligence.

“You look at the person’s ability, if they’re ready to be involved with a team? You also look at franchise value, how can a player expand that value? And a very important part is, what capabilities does he have in his home country or in his region?

“When you look at Anirban, his ability to reach out to Indian corporates is massive because of what he’s done on the golf course. So, I think he is a needle mover in India and the Asian market. As we look to grow Team Asia, you’re looking for him to be able to have that ability to not just reach out to the fans, but also into his database and call up the people that can help the team to grow and to get their franchise value up.”

Norman said Asia will be an important part of his long-term plans with LIV.

“Outside of Australia, Asia was the next place I wanted to get into. When I came on as the CEO, our initial investment was into the partnership with the Asian Tour ($300 million over 10 years). Why? Because I’ve always believed, and I’ve seen it through other parts of my company, through my golf course business, that Asia has been the sleeping giant for decades. Its potential has never really been given the chance to burst open.

“I have seen all the Tours come to Asia, to China or other places, but they haven't really invested new value into the Tour itself. To me, that was priority number one. That’s something that would lead into opportunities for players like Anirban and other Indian players.

“We are internally discussing how we are going to formulate something for all players in the future. We have the International Series with the Asian tour, but we see our involvement bigger than that. We see the opportunity to create a Tour for players that is bigger and better than anywhere else in the world. Maybe not the same size of what the PGA Tour is, but we believe we can get pretty damn close to it.”

Now that LIV Golf has acquired most of the talent that it wanted to, Norman said it can move towards the next focus area – franchises and developing value for them.

“Now that we are up and running, we are gonna go into the league and my focus for the next two years is making sure those franchises get established, get understood, and have the right management programme which the teams have to do themselves. We have to make sure that they’re doing the right structure and putting everything in place,” explained Norman.

“Our next two years are going to be way busier than what we’ve had last year… We are going on a road show soon and the response has been terrific. The product speaks for itself and it’s been received with open arms… from the players, from the fans, all the way through to sponsors.”

Norman said: “There’s a lot of white noise going on over here, but we don’t worry about that. We will fight our battles. If that is the way they are trying to stop a competitor, then shame on them.”

The next LIV Invitational is scheduled for Bangkok from October 7-9, followed by Jeddah.

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