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Saudi Arabia apparently made a very, very strong play to make Jack Nicklaus the face of the LIV Golf Invitational Series.
According to a story published on the Fire Pit Collective on Monday, Nicklaus said he repeatedly turned down massive offers from the Saudi-backed golf venture to lead the LIV Golf series — something Hall of Famer Greg Norman eventually accepted.
“I was offered something in excess of $100 million by the Saudis, to do the job probably similar to the one that Greg [Norman] is doing,” Nicklaus said in the story published by Michael Bamberger.
“I turned it down. Once verbally, once in writing. I said, ‘Guys, I have to stay with the PGA Tour. I helped start the PGA Tour.’”
It’s unclear how much Norman is being paid to lead the venture, though one would think it’s likely in a similar range.
Nicklaus, of course, is one of the best golfers in the history of the sport and was a founding member of the PGA Tour — as he split from the PGA of America back in 1968. He won 72 times on the Tour, including an incredible seven times in 1972 alone, and won a record 18 major championships. The 82-year-old was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974.
The first of eight LIV Golf events is set to take place next month at the Centurion Club in London. The PGA Tour declined to allow its golfers releases to play in the conflicting event, something commissioner Jay Monahan has long been against. He has even threatened the loss, potentially permanently, of tour cards should players leave for the Saudi-backed tour.
It’s unclear if any PGA Tour members will play in the LIV Golf event anyway. Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood are perhaps the biggest names who have publicly said they want to play.
Mickelson, of course, hasn’t played anywhere since he apologized for his comments about Saudi Arabia and the new league. Mickelson called the Saudis “scary motherf***ers” and said he was willing to overlook any and all human rights violations the country is accused of in order to reshape the PGA Tour — which didn’t go over well. He was planning to play in the PGA Championship this week, but he withdrew on Friday.
It’s unclear when Mickelson will compete again.
“My advice for Phil would be to be patient,” Nicklaus said. “The world is a very forgiving place. But he’s the one — he has to decide where he wants to play and what he wants to do.”