Greg Norman will try to qualify for the 150th Open at St Andrews

DEREK LAWRENSON: Greg Norman announces his intention to try to qualify for the 150th Open at St Andrews… but is it just a publicity stunt for the Saudi-backed lucrative Super Golf League?

  • Greg Norman wants to try to qualify for The Open Championship this year
  • This will be the 150th Open, and will take place at St Andrews golf club
  • The 67-year-old is in favour of the proposed Saudi-backed Super Golf League  
  • Norman may be trying to qualify for The Open to gain positive publicity

Greg Norman is threatening to take his Saudi bandwagon all the way to the Home of Golf this summer, with his eye-opening admission that he intends to try to qualify for the 150th Open at St Andrews.

In what will be seen by many as an inflammatory publicity stunt, the public face of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf organisation that will launch at the Centurion Club in St Albans in June, with the richest tournament staged in Britain, has revealed he has filled in his entry form.

‘I love St Andrews, I love the history,’ said the twice former champion, who never bothered to take the automatic spot to which he was entitled at the last two editions at the Old Course in 2010 and 2015.

Greg Norman intends to try to qualify for the 150th Open later this year at St Andrews

The iconic event – the 150th in history – is set to be held at the legendary course in Scotland

Now 67, his years of being exempt as a past winner have long since passed, so why would be bother now?

‘It’s the 150th and I still think I can get in,’ reasoned Norman, to Australian media company Newscorp.

Of course, it could just be pure coincidence that it comes at precisely the time the LIV Golf Series could do with some positive headlines, with nothing of consequence revealed for quite some time.

Norman took over with the promise to the Saudis to deliver the big names for their proposed Super Golf League but everyone who is anyone under the age of 35 has turned him down. The SGL has been delayed until 2024 at the earliest, so now all hopes are invested in a series of eight events taking place worldwide this year, offering $325million (£253m) in prize money.

Monday is the deadline for players who are dual members of the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour — formerly the European Tour — to request releases from the former if they want to play in the opener at Centurion.

Norman may be trying to gain positive headlines for the proposed Super Golf League

If the likes of Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell request a release, it will be granted. The PGA Tour aren’t interested in going to war on British soil. 

The battleground will come when the LIV series moves to America, with an event taking place in Oregon a fortnight before the game’s showpiece at St Andrews. The PGA Tour have pledged to ban anyone who plays in Oregon. Norman is threatening legal action.

Keith Pelley, CEO of the DP World Tour, has pleaded with his membership to see the bigger picture rather than the dollars on offer in St Albans, but Norman is laden with Saudi loot. 

Keith Pelley, CEO of the DP World Tour, has pleaded with his membership to see the bigger picture

The Open has not yet released the prize money on offer in July but it won’t be anywhere near the £19.4m offered to 48 players for the 54-hole event in Hertfordshire, with £3.1m going to the winner.

As for the Open, former world No1 Norman was undoubtedly one of the star attractions in his pomp with performances in victory at Turnberry in 1986 and Royal St George’s in 1993 that rank among the finest in history.

He hasn’t played in one since 2009, though, with a long-running dispute with the R&A over commercial rights proving a festering sore. 

Norman was the leading ambassador for watch maker Omega but was prevented from doing any marketing work during Open week because one of the tournament’s showcase sponsors is deadly rival, Rolex.

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