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Greg Norman slams golf great Jack Nicklaus as row over breakaway golf tour continues

Jack Nicklaus shakes hands with winner Billy Horschel after the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio on Sunday. Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Jack Nicklaus shakes hands with winner Billy Horschel after the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio on Sunday. Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Daniel ZeqiriTelegraph Media Group Limited

Greg Norman has branded Jack Nicklaus “a hypocrite” for distancing himself from golf’s Saudi-backed rebel tour, claiming the 18-time Major champion had previously voiced support for the venture.

Norman is leading LIV Golf Investment’s efforts to launch a breakaway, $225 million (€210m) series of tournaments which have divided the sport and challenged the supremacy of the PGA Tour. Nicklaus, a long-time friend and mentor to Norman, revealed he had turned down an offer in excess of $100m (€93.5m) from LIV and pledged allegiance to the PGA Tour.

“One hundred per cent truth? Jack’s a hypocrite,” Norman told the Washington Post. “When he came out with those comments, I’m thinking: Jack must have a short memory.”

The Australian alleged that Nicklaus had been in favour of the new tour during earlier discussions.

“Quote-unquote, he said: ‘This is good for our game. If it’s good for the game of golf, it’s good by me,’ ” Norman said. “So, you want the facts? You’ve got the facts. Know what you said before you open your mouth.”

A spokesman for Nicklaus issued a statement to the Washington Post wishing Norman well but reiterating Nicklaus’ “unwavering support” for the PGA Tour.

Nicklaus is currently being sued by his own business, Nicklaus Companies, after a complaint was filed to the Supreme Court of the State of New York over an alleged breach of contract.

The inaugural LIV Golf event starts at Centurion Golf Club in St Albans on Thursday, with 2020 Masters champion Dustin Johnson the biggest attraction at a tournament with a $25m (€23m) purse. The winner of the individual prize will take home $4m (€3.75m).

The 48-man field and their caddies will have all expenses paid, luxury travel and accommodation with organisers promising players the ‘Tiger Woods treatment’. Phil Mickelson yesterday confirmed that he would fill the 48th and final spot in the field.

However, crowd turnout for the launch of rebel golf circuit is in doubt after star names struggled to give away tickets for free following apparently slow sales.

There remains plenty of ticket availability this week, from £67 (€79) daily ground passes to £9,792 (€11,500) access-all-areas hospitality.

In a sign organisers are now anxious about turnout for the first event, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter have been among players promoting ticket giveaways on social media.

Yet despite sharing minimum 25 per cent discount codes to their multi-million fan audiences, free tickets – which were limited to the first 100 – were still possible to obtain yesterday. Laurie Canter and Sam Horsfield have also been giving away freebies for the series in recent days.

LIV Golf, which is marketing its first event in England as a “first-class experience” for players and fans, has so far declined to go into details about ticket sales, but it was expected to attract 10,000 spectators from Thursday.

But Scott Evans, who hosts the event at his Centurion Club on the outskirts of Hemel Hempstead, accepted prices starting at £67.55 were “the one element they got wrong”.

Targeting a wealthy audience, the 54-hole shotgun-start tournament has lined up big-budget evening entertainment, with after-action music acts including James Morrison and Craig David. Cuisine at the course, meanwhile, is overseen by Michelin-starred restaurateur Jason Atherton.

On the eve of the “draft party” launch, LIV Golf also announced bold plans for its broadcast coverage. Arlo White, the voice of Premier League coverage in the United States for nearly a decade, was a surprise announcement as lead commentator.

LIV Golf is hoping to harness changing broadcast habits by streaming on YouTube and Facebook. As a result, there is not expected to be an anchor and team of pundits analysing footage from a studio during breaks.

“The LIV Golf broadcast will be unlike anything fans have seen before,” said spokesman Will Staeger.

White is joined by former players Jerry Foltz and Dom Boulet as analysts in the commentary box. Su-Ann Heng will also lead on-course commentating. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd, 2022)

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