LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman visits Capitol Hill as the Saudi Arabia-backed league fights for the PGA Tour

LIV CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman watches play on the third hole during the final round of the LIV Golf Invitational Series Chicago at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois.

Brian Spurlock | Sportswire Icon | Getty Images

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman will visit Capitol Hill this week to meet with members of Congress as the Saudi Arabia-backed league engages with the PGA Tour.

The PGA Tour has been lobbying against the LIV since 2021. LIV players have filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour. Meanwhile, the Justice Department has been investigating the PGA Tour’s possible anti-competitive behavior since July.

“LIV Golf is coming to the Hill this week to meet with lawmakers from both parties,” LIV chief spokesman Jonathan Grella told CNBC. “Given the PGA Tour’s attempts to stifle our progress in reimagining the game, we feel it’s imperative to educate members about LIV’s business model and combat the Tour’s anti-competitive efforts.”

Norman is scheduled to meet with several lawmakers. Representatives Nancy Mace, RN.C., and Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., lead the Congressional informal golf convention.

PGA Tour representatives Mace and Panetta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The LIV Golf league was founded as a competitor to the PGA Tour and is funded by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. LIV has already attracted great golfers like Phil Mickelson from the PGA Tour, and Norman himself is a former star of the tour. The tour, in turn, prevented LIV-affiliated players from attending its events.

LIV Golf has always called the PGA Tour’s actions anti-competitive. The fledgling league said the PGA’s suspension of LIV players was an “effort to stifle competition”.

On the other hand, critics criticized the league’s associations with the Saudi government, seeing it as an attempt at “sport laundering” to improve the country’s image. Critics have also noted that the incredible wealth of the Saudi government makes any idea of ​​true competition a moot point. The LIV has another powerful fan in former President Donald Trump, whose country club in Bedminster, New Jersey, hosted a league event over the summer. Your Miami Doral course will host another LIV event in late October.

Since 2021, the PGA Tour has paid $360,000 to company DLA Piper to lobby lawmakers on various topics, including “Saudi Arabian Golf League proposals.” Various lawmakers – including Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. – expressed concern about LIV.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has taken a hard line against LIV.

“We welcome good, healthy competition. The LIV Saudi Golf League is not that. It’s an irrational threat that doesn’t care about the return on investment or the true growth of the game,” Monahan told reporters earlier this year. .

LIV Golf is also seeking a media deal as the league is streaming its rookie season on its website and YouTube. Recent reports said that Apple and Amazon have approved a coverage agreement. League media director Will Staeger told CNBC that he is “highly optimistic” that he will have a partnership for the 2023 season. The PGA Tour has agreements with CBS, ESPN and NBC.

Disclosure: NBC and CNBC share the same parent company, NBCUniversal.

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