As the two-time Open champion sells his soul to the highest bidder, Alex Perry has some questions in this week's edition of The Slam

Hello, and welcome to this week’s edition of The Slam, and once again the so-called “breakaway golf league” chat is back making headlines.

Only this time, there seems to be something actually happening.

If you’re a bit like me and largely stare blankly into space at this talk while hoping someone explains it to you like you’re five years old, here’s what we know so far. Unfortunately, it’s not a lot.

Greg Norman was this week revealed as the CEO of a new private company called LIV Golf Investments.

LIV’s majority shareholder is Saudi Arabia’s sportswashing division otherwise known as the Public Investment Fund – a cash reservoir to the tune of hundreds of billions of pounds – and, according to their mission statement, their remit is to “holistically improve the health of professional golf on a truly global scale and support existing stakeholders to help unlock the sport’s untapped potential”.

Now the PIF’s involvement in sport is no secret. In the UK alone they are invested in many publicly-traded companies including Manchester United, while a recent Saudi-backed takeover made Newcastle United the richest football club in the world.

So what do they want to do with golf?

LIV have revealed a 10-year, $200 million commitment to create 10 new full-field Asian Tour events to be held in Asia – obviously – as well Europe and the Middle East.

Details are slim and there are more questions than answers, but I can’t help but come back to the same ones each time. Firstly, what’s in it for the fans?

Is it better than the current product on offer? No.

And do we really want to watch a bunch of stars well past their prime competing in the name of dollar signs? Also no.

Given the choice between even the most regular of PGA Tour events and watching, say, Phil Mickelson in the desert, I know which I’m choosing.

My second question is why does Norman care so much?

Sure, he’s divorced twice but he can’t be that strapped for money. A quick Google search tells us his net worth is north of $400 million, and he sold his Florida mansion for a quarter of that earlier this year.

He’s 66 years old. Why bother? Why not just enjoy what’s left of life? He doesn’t need to be spending his days ringing round already impossibly wealthy golfers with the offer of swelling their bank accounts further.

Now Norman, you may remember, wanted to create a breakaway golf league back in the mid-1990s because he didn’t think he and other global megastars in the game at the time were getting a fair cut of the PGA Tour purses.

Why should Norman, then World No 1, be paid the same as any lesser-known players who happened to finish in the same position as him that particular week when he is the one brings eyeballs to that tournament?

As a result the Australian wanted to play in more exclusive, small-field global events that offered him huge appearance fees, but was stymied by the PGA Tour’s minimum 15 appearances rule.

It seems he has never been quite able to let this go.

So is it a vanity thing? Is it his chance to get one back on the PGA Tour having failed all those years ago?

When he lost that famous Masters showdown with Nick Faldo in 1996, Norman was the personification of a good loser. “It’s not the end of the world,” he told reporters after a final-round 78 turned a six-shot lead into a five-shot deficit. “I still have a pretty good life.”

Fast forward a quarter of a century and Norman’s stock – among golf fans, at least – is in risk of hitting an all-time low.

Maybe he cares less about his reputation now.

One thing he’s sure of, though, is that “this is only the beginning” and that “LIV Golf Investments has secured a major capital commitment that will be used to create additive new opportunities across worldwide professional golf”.

Because, let’s face it, there aren’t enough of those for the game’s biggest stars.

Willett’s cruel ruling

Elsewhere this week we tipped Danny Willett at a very tempting 40/1 before the Bermuda Championship, but it didn’t go the Englishman’s way on the Atlantic island.

Willett was hit with a brutal out of bounds ruling on the short par-4 10th at Port Royal Golf Club when his Callaway ball came to rest achingly close to the boundary line.

He called a rules official – because the difference between it being in and out was a chip for eagle and playing three off the tee – and he got the decision no golfer wants.

“It’s out by, I’d say,” the rules official told Willett after reaching for his string. “It’s out by about an inch.”

He would go on to make a double-bogey six en route to an opening 75 and a missed cut.

Ouch.

Now if you’re want to know about this rule, never fear because our expert Steve Carroll has you covered

This is how you do it

There was no question about whether or not Patrick Reed’s tee shot at the par-5 17th was in the penalty area or not. There was no question about where his third shot ended, either…

What an eagle.

So who won?

Lucas Herbert won his maiden European Tour title at the beginning of 2020 when he lifted the Dubai Desert Classic. He then added the Irish Open earlier this year, and now the Australian has a PGA Tour trophy in his cabinet thanks to a one-shot win over Patrick Reed and Danny Lee in Bermuda.

And you’ve got to love the trophy…

Back in the Middle East, how good is the Dubai Moonlight Classic on the Ladies European Tour? Fantastic to watch some of the world’s best compete over the floodlit fairways of the Emirates Golf Club.

And it was Bronte Law who triumphed to add an LET title to her sole LPGA win.

Right, there were no European Tour or LPGA events this week, so that’s all from me. Remember you can follow me on Twitter if that’s your thing, and play well this week.

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