LIV Golf chief Greg Norman is looking for SEVEN more PGA Tour stars with ‘American duo Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele on the hitlist’ – as the Aussie says current rebels have been ‘set free’ in the Saudi-backed series .
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman has suggested seven more PGA Tour players could defect to the Saudi-backed rebel series next year.
The series concluded its inaugural season in Miami last weekend with the team championship and is looking to return for a second with 14 events.
The breakaway has attracted some big names from the PGA Tour with lucrative signing-on fees, including British Open champion Cameron Smith, former World No. 1s Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, and Ryder Cup heroes Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter.
Greg Norman suggested seven more PGA Tour players could defect to LIV Golf
The Saudi-backed series has already earned bug names, including Dustin Johnson (left)
But Norman says the list doesn’t end there. The two-time major winner indicated that LIV Golf is looking for seven more players.
‘Basically we’re looking for maybe seven players, something like that,’ said Norman speaking after this year’s final LIV Golf round in Florida.
Norman did not give any specific names but suggested the series’ latest defectors could come from within the top 20 in the World.
Americans Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele along with veteran Adam Scott and Belgium’s Thomas Pieters are rumored to be on LIV’s hitlist, according to The Mirror.
If seven targets jump at LIV Golf, it will mean suspension from the PGA Tour, with all rebels facing the same penalty from the moment they tee off in an event on the breakaway circuit.
Defectors have also faced severe backlash for joining the series because of its Saudi ties and accusations of sportswashing.
Americans Patrick Cantlay (right) and Xander Schauffele (left) were reportedly on the hitlist
PGA Tour stalwarts, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy also led the revenge and war or words against LIV Golf.
However, Norman claims that LIV players feel a sense of freedom by being apart of the PGA Tour.
He said: ‘Honestly, players out there looking to see what’s going on in LIV now, these guys are still talking to each other, right?
Those in LIV seem to have been released. There are players on the PGA Tour we’re talking to right now who want to be released.’
Tiger Woods (left) and Rory McIlroy (right) led the charge from the PGA Tour
And the mega-money prize purse certainly helped with the ‘liberated’ feeling.
American Pat Perez pocketed over $8million from LIV’s debut season without finishing in the top 10, thanks to the success of his team, 4Aces, in the combined format.
Meanwhile, Dustin Johnson topped the earnings table by earning $35.6million from his eight events this year in addition to a reported signing-on bonus of more than $100m on the mega-rich Saudi rebel tour.
Pat Perez pocketed over $8million from LIV this season without making the top 10
Perez’s earnings mainly came from his team, the 4Aces, winning the championship trophy
It’s not really surprising that the majority of players want to return for the second season, according to Norman.
The Australian said: ‘The percentage of players coming back is probably – doing quick maths – 85 to 90 per cent of players, I’d say.’
At the end of July, the series confirmed it would return in 2023 in the new form of the LIV Golf League with $405million on the line for prize purses and the chance for promotions and relegation.
Golf’s first league will also introduce a franchise system team with 12 teams led by a strong Team Captain who will compete and have the ability to build their franchises to attract a fan following and sponsors.