CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Greg Norman says he has been asked not to attend the QBE Shootout in December, a PGA Tour-sanctioned event he started in 1989 as the Shark Shootout that is held at the Tiburon Golf Club course he designed.
It was not clear who asked that he not attend the Dec. 9-11 tournament. The tournament director says it was a collective decision.
Norman, who is in Washington to meet with members of Congress about his Saudi-funded LIV Golf series, revealed the news in an Instagram post late Tuesday afternoon without saying who was behind it.
“Why one might ask? Perhaps it is because I am helping to give golf a new heartbeat, creating new value and delivering a new product that is loved by players, fans and broadcasters alike,” Norman said. “And in doing so, finally giving players their rights as independent contractors to benefit from their performance and brand.
“In some people’s mind this is too disruptive and evolution is perceived as a bad thing. I disagree — competition breeds excellence.”
The QBE Shootout was the first of the PGA Tour’s unofficial season late in the year to raise more than $1 million for childhood cancer, a figure he says now tops $15 million. It is comprised of 12 two-player teams competing in various formats.
Jason Kokrak and Kevin Na are the defending champions. They will not return this year because the PGA Tour suspended the players who signed with LIV Golf, and the QBE Shootout is a tour-sanctioned tournament.
While Norman says he was asked not to attend, he later says in the Instagram post that the money raised for charities is most important to him.
“As such, I have decided not to attend this year’s event so the focus can remain on the missions at hand,” he said.
Rob Hartman, the tournament director, told The Naples Daily News it was a mutual decision.
“As we got close, ultimately the decision was made that he was going to step back and really let the focus remain on our tremendous charitable partners,” Hartman said. “When he started this event 34 years ago, it was all about charity then, and it’s all about charity now. Greg just made the decision that he didn’t want anything to distract from that.”
Norman also was asked by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club this summer not to attend the festivities surrounding the 150th British Open at St. Andrews because of the distraction created by LIV Golf, which has paid enormous sums to PGA Tour players such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau to defect to the rival league.