A long time ago, Greg Norman was a very good golfer with a flashy nickname who was best known for losing major tournaments in the worst way possible.
Today, it’s something else entirely: the despicable epitome of unabashed greed, a man seemingly without soul or conscience who has just uttered one of the most reprehensible lines ever heard in the world of sports.
While answering questions about the 2018 murder and dismemberment of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi on Wednesday at a press day for the inaugural event of his Saudi-backed LIV Golf in London next month, Norman had this to say:
“Look, we’ve all made mistakes and you just want to learn from those mistakes and how you can correct them in the future.”
That’s the quote, word for word, according to The Times of London. “We’ve all made mistakes,” Norman, 67, said of the country and the man, his business partner, who ordered the kidnapping and murder of another human being.
Human rights organizations and intelligence services have said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman authorized Khashoggi’s assassination at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018. Bin Salman is chairman of the Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund. . That fund is financing Norman’s LIV Golf.
If we as a society have any sense of collective outrage left, Norman as a promoter, figurehead and aging public figure should be done for. Done. Gone.
His golf tour financed with Saudi blood money should go along with it. Finish. Done. Gone.
December 11, 2020; Naples, Florida, USA; Greg Norman greets players on the first hole during the QBE Shootout at Tiburon Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Chris Tilley-USA TODAY NETWORK
Any golfer who still talks about playing in Saudi Series tournaments (to date, such as Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood) should be ostracized and punished for their selfishness and arrogance. Any sponsors still holding on to those players should let them loose. Finish. Done. Gone. Why not? This is that bad. Golfers know best, but they can’t help but want to take money from the worst among us.
The Saudi team of Mickelson, Garcia and Westwood have sought releases from the PGA Tour to play in LIV Golf events. This week, the Tour denied its members permission to play in the London tournament, Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch reported.
Mickelson hasn’t played competitively since his Norman comments in February trying to explain why a guy like him would want to join a tour like the one the Saudis are putting together.
“It’s scary (expletive) to get involved,” Mickelson said, according to author Alan Shipnuck. “We know that Khashoggi was killed and they have a horrible human rights record. There they execute people for being gay. Knowing all this, why would he even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape the way the PGA Tour operates.”
It was terrible when he said it, but coupled with Norman’s comment, it looks even worse now. My God, how will history judge these people. Mickelson apologized and disappeared, but her quote speaks for itself in all of her cowardice: “Once in a lifetime opportunity.”
These billionaires want to be freed from the Tour that has made them so rich so they can get even richer by being associated with it: on March 12, Saudi Arabia mass-executed 81 men.
Norman was asked about it by reporters in London on Wednesday, and he replied that he didn’t want to be bothered thinking about it.
“I got a lot of messages but honestly I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I dont look back. I don’t look at the politics of things. I’m not going to get into the quagmire of anything else that happens in someone else’s world. I found out and moved on.”
For decades, Norman was called “The Shark” for his blonde hair, stocky profile, aggressive play and Australian roots. He always seemed like the perfect nickname to me. And he still is. Just remove “the” and replace it with “a”.
A shark, from start to finish.
Christine Brennan writes columns on national and international sports issues for USA Today. She is also a commentator for ABC News, PBS NewsHour, and National Public Radio, and the author of seven best-selling books. Click here to see more of her recent work.