Portugal Colonial - Norman says new Asian series offers 'powerful new force on world golf'

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Norman says new Asian series offers 'powerful new force on world golf'
Norman says new Asian series offers 'powerful new force on world golf'

Norman says new Asian series offers 'powerful new force on world golf'

A Saudi Arabia-backed group headlined by Australian great Greg Norman on Tuesday unveiled a new 10-event series aimed at "setting the Asian Tour up as a powerful new force on the world golf stage" in the latest twist in the balance of power at the top of the game.

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With a first ever Asian Tour stopover in England, former world number one Norman said the International Series was "not going to be geofenced".

"Just because the International Series is associated with the Asian Tour, we want to get the message out there that it's just not specifically for the Asian region, and that's critically important for everybody to understand. Healthy and respectful competition should be spread globally," he explained.

"That's why it's so encouraging that we can go to London. It will be so encouraging when we go to the United States. This is just the beginning."

Norman said he was surprised at the vehemence the U.S. PGA Tour and the European DP World Tour had shown to the Asian Tour and its partner, Norman's LIV Golf Investment.

"We're not in this for a fight. We're in this for the good of the game," said the Australian.

"It's disappointing, personally, to see some of the attacks that have been taking place unwarrantedly. Any time you pre-judge anybody without knowing the facts, then shame on you, to be honest," said Norman, whose proposed a world tour in mid-1990s was shot down by the established tours.

"I would encourage them to sit back and say, maybe it's a good time to sit down and understand if we can work side by side."

"In my 40 years as a professional golfer, I've seen many parts of the world that have benefitted tremendously from golf and its growth and development," continued Norman, 66, who was the world's top-ranked player for more than five years.

"We now have the opportunity to do that in the Asia Pacific region and the Middle East with this incredible investment platform. Everyone benefits and I've never been so optimistic about the future of the sport."

On the eve of the $5 million Saudi International, which used to be part of the European Tour but is now co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour, Norman announced that his LIV organisation will increase its financial commitment to $300 million over the next 10 years.

That's an increase of $100 million from the previously announced figure of $200 million.

The International Series will bolster the Asian Tour calendar to "at least 25 events" in 2022-23, with Saudi International this week opening the season.

The first International Series event will be in Thailand at the Black Mountain Golf Club in Hua Hin from March 3-6, which will offer $1.5 million in prize money. I moves to London at Centurion Club from June 9-12, offering a $2 million purse.

The rest of the schedule is planned to be announced as soon as the Covid-19 situation in Asia becomes clearer.

The PGA Tour and the DP World Tour have been at loggerheads with the Asian Tour since last year as LIV Golf has partnered with the proposed Saudi sovereign fund (PIF) to create the league.

Several top players, including defending champion and world No. 5 Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau are in the field this week, and they had to take special release from their Tours.