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The Parallel World on the Golf Course

The Masters is also a family event, with Rory McIlroy, his wife and daughter Poppy exploring the green. REUTERS

The golf major event in Augusta fascinates, stars like Tiger Woods are admired by the crowd. But if they come from the controversial LIV series, even icons are “undesirable”.

augusta The golf major in Augusta is on, the golf scene is in the limelight together – and yet a deep ditch separates the idyll on the green. While members of the controversial LIV tour may be welcome at the Augusta National Club, their polarizing commissioner, Australia’s Greg Norman, did not receive a Masters invitation. Why? There were fears he would be “an unwanted distraction” and disrupt the Georgia event, club chairman Fred Ridley confirmed.

Tensions ran high in the run-up to the first major of the year as golfers from the “enemy” PGA Tour and LIV golf series (since 2022) traveled to Georgia with front lines drawn.

Above all, one statement makes the rounds before all four rounds have even been played: if a LIV player wins, they want to gather together at the 18th hole. As a signal, as a position, as a rebellion – on PGA turf. That is the reality in this parallel world.

Norman? persona non grata

“That’s why we didn’t invite Mr. Norman,” Ridley admitted frankly. “The motive is that the focus is on the Masters, on great players – the golf.” Norman, the “jaws” was a superstar in the 1980s with 86 tournament wins, two major successes (British Open) and as No. 1 for 331 weeks, for the past two years has been CEO of the Saudi-funded rival series that lured stars from the PGA series at all costs. Because other icons canceled for this job and Norman is now in charge of the LIV hustle and bustle, the scene has a face on which their rejection is discharged.

While LIV golfers are banned from the PGA Tour, dancing at both weddings was unwelcome from either side, the Masters, like all other majors, has opened the door for those who qualify. Now 18 LIV stars are starting in Augusta, many are former champions. You turn a blind eye, for the sake of the event, already PR-heavy. But Norman? He’s considered the best player who never won the Masters – and is persona non grata.

The Masters

Above all, the industry is concerned about the sums gushing out of Saudi Arabia’s “Public Investment Fund”. Reprehensible, they say. Commerce versus history and tradition, there is no clear stance. It may seem hypocritical at best, but you keep your distance. Ridley: “The platform on which these players built their careers was based on the blood, sweat and tears of their predecessors, people like Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson or Tiger Woods . And they switched sides without thinking about the damage they left behind.”

First dinner, then tee off

As a Major winner, Norman would normally receive an invitation to the Masters unchallenged. But because communication, envy and discord continue to cloud this illustrious picture, the “Jaws” has to stay out of the Masters.

With that everything was said and the eyes were drawn to the stars. Tiger Woods isn’t among the favourites, but the fans worship him like no other. Even the competitors would never write off the 15-time Major winner, five-time Masters winner. In February 2021, the 47-year-old had a serious car accident. Since then, the former No. 1 has only teed off at selected tournaments. The way to the “Green Jacket” only leads through the current No. 1: the American Scottie Scheffler , 26, is not only the defending champion, but also the dominator. He triumphed at the PGA Championship in mid-March.

It has been a tradition for 70 years (the first Masters was held in 1934) that the previous year’s winner has the “Champions Dinner” served on the Tuesday before the tournament. Scheffler served cheeseburgers, shrimp, tortilla soup for starters, and rip-eye steak or seared fish for mains. Warm chocolate cookies were served as desert. It was the final act of courtesy, with Thursday’s tee shot the competition prevailed. Scheffler’s toughest competitors? Jon Rahm, the four-time major winner Rory McIlroy or the Australian LIV professional and British Open champion Cameron Smith. Will he be surrounded by rebellious companions on the 18th hole on Sunday?

Source: diepresse