Greg Norman said he was asked not to attend this year’s QBE Shootout, a golf tournament he founded over 30 years ago. Norman posted on his Instagram on Tuesday saying he would not be at this year’s event at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., on Dec. 5-11.
Norman, the CEO of LIV Golf, has been a controversial figure in the sport over the last year as his new Saudi-funded league has disrupted the pro game and changed its landscape.
Norman started the RMCC Invitational in 1989, and two years later it was renamed the Shark Shootout. The PGA Tour co-sanctioned team event has had several name changes since, and Norman has played in and/or hosted all 33 events — up until this coming up.
“Perhaps [I was asked not to attend] because I am helping to give golf a new heartbeat, creating new value and delivering a new product that is loved by players, fans and broadcasters alike,” Norman said on his Instagram. “And in doing so, finally giving players their rights as independent contractors to benefit from their performance and brand. In some people’s mind this is too disruptive and evolution is perceived as a bad thing. I disagree — competition breeds excellence.”
QBE Shootout tournament director Rob Hartman told the Naples Daily News that event organizers and Norman have discussed Norman’s role as tournament host for the last several months, but all parties agreed for him not to attend.
“As we got close, ultimately the decision was made that he was going to step back and really let the focus remain on our tremendous charitable partners,” Hartman said. “When he started this event 34 years ago, it was all about charity then and it’s all about charity now. Greg just made the decision that he didn’t want anything to distract from that.”
Earlier this year the R&A decided not to invite Norman, a two-time Open winner, to its Celebration of Champions and Champions Dinner.
“The 150th Open is an extremely important milestone for golf and we want to ensure that the focus remains on celebrating the Championship and its heritage,” the R&A said in a statement then. “Unfortunately, we do not believe that would be the case if Greg were to attend.”
In Norman’s post, he said the Shootout has raised more than $15 million for charities over the years.
“To the Shootout charities, the City of Naples and to all of the incredible volunteers, corporate sponsors, fans and Shootout staff, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your continued good work and support,” Norman said. “I will miss seeing you all this year but I will certainly be there in spirit.”
LIV Golf has completed five tournaments and taken a handful of big-name players from the PGA Tour. It most recently snagged World No. 2 Cameron Smith, who won last week’s LIV Chicago event. Three more LIV events, all in October, remain on the 2022 schedule.