Greg Norman has left little doubt that LIV Golf wants to be involved in the women’s game. Just last week he told the Palm Beach Post, “One hundred percent. Drop the mic on that,” regarding a women’s league.
At this week’s Amundi Evian Championship, LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan told Cathy Harris of the London Times that she would take Norman’s call.
“It’s my responsibility to evaluate every opportunity,” Marcoux Samaan told Harris. “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.”
Already entrenched in the Ladies European Tour, Golf Saudi currently backs six events – including the Aramco Team Series – which feature prize money that’s three to four times a typical event on that tour, totaling $6 million.
At the Evian this week, fans will notice a number of LPGA players with Aramco series and Saudi logos on their hats and shirts, including three-time major champion Anna Nordqvist, Carlota Ciganda, Bronte Law and Alison Lee.
Saudi Arabia has been accused of wide-ranging human rights abuses, including politically motivated killings, torture, forced disappearances and inhumane treatment of prisoners. And members of the royal family and Saudi government were accused of involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist.
The LPGA’s ability to withstand the departure of a wave of marquee players stands in stark contrast to the PGA Tour. Marcoux Samaan told Harris that “working together is always better than a fractured organization.”
At last month’s KPMG Women’s PGA, Maria Fassi told Golfweek that LIV Golf is “truly all we talk about on the course and in dining.” On the range at Congressional, Cristie Kerr said “the entire tour” might leave if faced with the opportunity to earn life-changing money.
“Everybody has different opinions in terms of what the guys are doing,” said Fassi, “but then when it’s switched to us, it would be very hard to say no to that.”
Fassi went on to say that, if possible, she’d like to see the tour work with the Saudi-backed league rather than against it to ensure the long-term health of the LPGA. And not just events with several dozen players like the current LIV format, but full-field events.
“I think all of us care about this tour a lot,” said Fassi. “I don’t think any of us truly want to leave.”