In what has been one of the more bizarre subplots here at Augusta, Masters chairman Fred Ridley has explained why Greg Norman has not been invited to this year’s tournament.
A three-time runner-up, including that famous collapse that allowed Nick Faldo to take the Green Jacket in 1996, the now LIV Golf CEO had complained earlier in the week that he was not welcome in this corner of Georgia.
“Funnily enough, I haven’t been invited,” he said. “As a major winner I always was before, but they only sent me a grounds pass last year and nothing – zilch – this time around.
“I’m disappointed because it’s so petty – but of course I’ll still be watching.”
Two-time Open winner Norman is usually invited as an honorary non-former champion – it’s the same criteria that sees John Daly roll into town every year – but Chairman Ridley gave a succinct response when asked to comment by the media during his traditional Wednesday press conference.
“We did not extend an invitation to Mr Norman,” he confirmed. “The primary issue and the driver there is that I want the focus this week to be on the Masters competition, on the great players that are participating, the greatest players in the world, which, by our decision in December, we ensured that we were going to honour and be consistent with our invitation criteria.”
He also noted that “in the last 10 years, Greg Norman has only been here twice – and I believe one of those was as a commentator for Sirius Radio”.
He concluded: “It really was to keep the focus on the competition.”
When pushed about whether or not he would be welcome back in future, Ridley said: “It’s hard to answer that question because I don’t know where the world is going to be next year, or two years from now.
“I told you why he had not been invited this year, but I would never say never.”
Players including Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm have noted this week that they have not noticed any ill feeling between PGA Tour and LIV Golf stars, while Tuesday’s Champions Dinner was void of any drama.
“The tone has been really good here this week, and the players are interacting,” Ridley added.
“At the Champions Dinner, I would not have known that anything was going on in the world of professional golf other than the norm.
“So I’m hopeful that this week might get people thinking in a different direction and things will change.”
Could the golf ball be rolled back for everyone?