- Norman says he has held talks with LPGA Tour and LET players
- LPGA Tour commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan said last July she was prepared to “engage in a conversation” with LIV
LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman has revealed the Saudi-backed tour is considering creating a women’s circuit.
LIV’s men’s events began in 2022, enticing top players from the established golf tours and splintering the sport, as well as prompting various lawsuits.
Now, LIV, which is owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), could turn its attention to establishing a women’s tour in the future, with Norman confirming that talks for the idea are ongoing on a “regular basis”.
“I have personally had discussions with individual LPGA Tour players, Ladies European Tour,” said Norman, who was speaking at the Grange Gold Club in Adelaide, Australia, which is hosting LIV’s next event.
“They love what our product is showcasing. They ask all the time, ‘How can we get involved?’ We’d love to see a LIV ladies series.”
Saudi Arabia is already one of the biggest backers of golf’s Ladies European Tour (LET) through a partnership with state oil giant Aramco, which was signed in February 2021 and resulted in the creation of the Aramco Team Series (ATS). Rounds for that are currently held in Singapore, the US, the UK, Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia.
You only have to look at the impact LIV has had on the men’s game as indication of what could happen next if it launched a women’s series.
Player suspensions and defections, verbal sparring, not to mention lawsuits, have been abundant since the breakaway circuit arrived on the scene. More of the same feels inevitable should LIV go after top female players.
However, the existing women’s tours may not close the door on LIV. LPGA Tour commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan told The Times last July she would take the call.
“It’s my responsibility to evaluate every opportunity,” she said. “I would engage in a conversation if it would achieve our aim of promoting women’s golf but there needs to be input from players and sponsors. There’s a lot of factors to consider before we do business with LIV Golf.”
That said, concerns over Saudi Arabian sportswashing continue and there’s also the issue of women’s rights in the kingdom, where basic freedoms are limited. Reforms have arrived, including on voting, driving, divorce and travelling, but critics feel there is much still to do.
Norman, as he always has done, continues to bat away questions over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, maintaining that he is “focused on golf”. The 68-year-old believes the sport can be a “force for good”, but a LIV-backed women’s tour would likely intensify opposition to the circuit.