Greg Norman on Thursday was set to invite a number of top-ranked amateurs to participate in the LIV Golf Invitational Series tournaments that begin in June, with the idea of providing a path to the pro game for young players.
Norman, in an interview with SI.com/Morning Read, said for those who do not want to turn pro or have college eligibility, LIV Golf is working on Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deals that are now prevalent in college sports.
“I’ve always said from the outset I want to grow the game of golf the best way we possibly can for all levels,’’ said Norman, who is the commissioner of the LIV Golf Invitational Series and CEO of LIV Golf Investments. “I’ve been consistent with this. At the Shark Shootout (his team event in Naples, Florida), for 33 years I’ve tried to always invite a rookie, a younger player — Rickie Fowler, Matthew Wolff.
“It was to reach out to some kid to give him a chance to start experiencing something new. And we have every intention of doing that with this as well. Give them a pathway. Some of these guys are set to turn pro anyway, and this is an opportunity for them to experience something new.’’
Norman said there will be a full field of 48 players when the series launches June 9-11 at the Centurion Club outside of London. The organization has put off its plans to have players join as a competing league to the PGA Tour and DP World Tour for now.
Eight events are scheduled for this year, seven of which will have $25 million purses, including a team portion that pays out $5 million. Individuals will compete for $20 million, with $4 million going to first place. Four of the tournaments will be played in the United States, the first in July at Pumpkin Ridge outside of Portland.
The two-time major winner and World Golf Hall of Famer said the organization has received hundreds of inquiries about playing in the events.
But he stressed that no one will be joining LIV Golf as a member of a league. That was the original plan, which has been delayed.
“We will be doing it like this for the next two years,’’ he said. “We have eight invitational series events this year, 10 next year. And we will do thorough testing of how everything works. We will still do team events and then the league will be up and running in 2024. We’re just giving them an opportunity to go play one time for $25 million or seven times for $25 million with the ability to qualify for the team championship.’’
Norman said that Ratchanon Chantananuwat, a 15-year-old amateur from Thailand who just became the youngest player to ever win a professional tour event when he won the Asian Tour’s Trust Golf Asian Mixed Cup, will be one of the players offered an opportunity to take part in the amateur initiative.
He did not name others but among those likely being considered are reigning U.S. Amateur champion James Piot, who just competed in the Masters; Keita Nakajima of Japan, the winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship who also played in the Masters and is the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world; and Alex Fitzpatrick, brother of PGA Tour and DP World Tour player Matthew, who competed on the Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team and plays at Wake Forest.
The amateurs being contacted are receiving two-year offers to take part in the LIV tournaments.