Asian Tour officials announced Friday that the formation of a new 10-event series will be added to its schedule next year in what appears to be the earliest vestiges of a new Saudi-backed global tour that will be led by Greg Norman.
Norman was named CEO of LIV Golf Investments which has committed $200 million over the next 10 years to the Asian Tour to back the new series and “set in motion a number of momentous developments for professional golf worldwide,” according to a press release.
“This is only the beginning,” Norman said in the press release. “LIV Golf Investments has secured a major capital commitment that will be used to create additive new opportunities across worldwide professional golf.”
Multiple reports in recent days have tagged Norman as the commissioner of the upstart league, which would include a team concept and has targeted many of the PGA Tour’s best players. A long-term agreement with the Asian Tour provides the new circuit two key elements needed to move forward, including access to world ranking points and a potential feeder tour to provide a ready stream of players.
According to various reports, the new circuit could start playing as early as spring 2022, although that seems ambitious considering that no players have officially announced an alliance with the league. There is also the issue of how the PGA Tour would handle any potential defections to the new circuit.
“Our governance system has been driven by our players and our board, and we have regulations in place that allow us to protect the interests of our media partners, our sponsors and all of our constituents, and if we got to that point in time, we would take measures to vigilantly protect this business model,” Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in early 2020.
The announcement of the new Asian Tour series dovetails with a move earlier this year to move the Saudi International onto the Asian schedule beginning in 2022. The event, which had been sanctioned by the European Tour until this year, will become the Asian Tour’s flagship event and the anchor for the larger global circuit.
According to the release the PIF, the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, is the majority shareholder of the new company and “several high-profile C-Suite executives” have joined the company.
One of those executives is Ron Cross, a former deputy commissioner of the PGA Tour, who, according to multiple sources, attended a meeting on Wednesday with select members of the media in New York City (Golf Channel was not invited to the meeting) to outline the new investment firm and the proposed global tour.