Greg Norman fumes at ‘petty’ Augusta Nationwide snub, Fred Ridley responds

Masters chairman Fred Ridley sat amongst 33 champions in inexperienced jackets at golf’s most unique dinner. It was a time to have fun Scottie Scheffler as the latest winner, to share laughs, recollections and even a number of tears.

That is how it’s yearly at Augusta Nationwide.

However this time, a “petty” snub has left Greg Norman livid.

“I’d not have recognized that something was occurring on the planet {of professional} golf aside from the norm,” Ridley mentioned on the eve of a Masters in contrast to another. “So I believe — and I am hopeful — that this week may get folks pondering in a bit bit totally different course and issues will change.”

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There is a full menu of exercise at this Masters.

Tiger Woods returns for his twenty fifth look with hopes his course data can compensate for battered legs as he pursues one other inexperienced jacket. Rory McIlroy will get one other crack on the one main that retains him from the profession Grand Slam. Nobody has received the Masters back-to-back since Woods in 2002, and with Scheffler the No.1 participant on the planet, he has a good chance.

The forecast is for the climate to show nasty on the weekend. The actual storm has been brewing for the final 10 months because the launch of LIV Golf and the 18 gamers on the Masters who defected to the rival league for its Saudi riches.

There have been accusations that LIV Golf is not critical competitors with its 54-hole occasions, and even some name-calling — Fred {Couples} referred to Phil Mickelson as a “nut bag” — of LIV gamers for turning their backs on the tour that made them well-known.

“Everybody thinks we suck now, so I need to play nice,” Harold Varner III mentioned, a LIV participant with “Golf Saudi” on his bag. Varner joined for the cash. He makes no secret about that.

All that will get put aside when the gamers — skilled and novice, PGA Tour loyalists and people with LIV — have one factor in frequent.

“We speak about all these points in golf, however we’re right here this week — these 88 gamers — and that is all that is on their thoughts is enjoying for that inexperienced jacket,” Ridley mentioned. “It is a terrific image of celebration of this sport. And we’re wanting ahead to seeing somebody donning it on Sunday afternoon.”

The 2023 Masters Match might be stay on 9 and 9Now from April 7-10.

Normalcy is tough to search out nowadays.

The PGA Tour and LIV Golf are concerned in an antitrust lawsuit — a case administration convention earlier than a federal decide is scheduled for Friday afternoon, in regards to the time Woods needs to be headed to Amen Nook.

A London-based arbitration panel reportedly will rule this week in favour of the European tour’s means to sanction LIV gamers.

The big oak tree subsequent to the Augusta Nationwide clubhouse is the place all of the VIPs throughout golf collect. Lacking was Greg Norman, the CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf.

Norman stoked the talk by telling London’s Every day Telegraph if a LIV participant received the Masters, the opposite 17 could be ready for him behind the 18th inexperienced to have fun. Norman will not be there as a result of he says he wasn’t invited.

“They solely despatched me a grounds cross final 12 months and nothing, zilch, this time round,” he mentioned. “I am disillusioned as a result of it is so petty, however after all I am going to nonetheless be watching.”

Ridley was fast to level that Norman, usually invited as a two-time British Open champion, confirmed up solely twice within the final 10 years, as soon as whereas doing radio commentary.

“We didn’t prolong an invite to Mr Norman. The first situation and the motive force there may be that I would like the main target this week to be on the Masters competitors, on the nice gamers which might be collaborating, the best gamers on the planet,” Ridley mentioned.

That features LIV gamers. Ridley made positive of that when he introduced in December that whereas he is not pleased with the fractured setting in golf, the Masters would honour gamers who certified below the standards.

By look, it actually appears regular.

The gamers invited to participate in formal press conferences have been the standard suspects — that included British Open champion Cameron Smith, the final huge title to signal with LIV — although Phil Mickelson declined. The beginning occasions had a mix of PGA Tour and LIV Golf gamers, although not one of the LIV gamers are a part of the featured teams that might be streamed stay.

Brooks Koepka performed a apply spherical on Tuesday with McIlroy, who has delivered a number of the sharpest digs at LIV Golf during the last 12 months. Koepka, a four-time main champion, final week turned the primary a number of winner at LIV Golf. McIlroy despatched him a textual content to congratulate him and Koepka requested if he wished to play a apply spherical.

Was it a sign of thawing relations between the rival circuits?

“I assume you possibly can say that. It is extra simply two buddies eager to play collectively,” Koepka mentioned. “I simply wished to play with him, simply examine my sport. I do know he is been enjoying properly. It was good for me to see, and I believe it is enjoyable to have the ability to go play with these guys.”

After which he was again to enjoying with LIV colleagues on Wednesday.

“Every thing’s been good, man,” Koepka mentioned. “We’re nonetheless the identical folks.”

The thought is to make this the identical Masters because it’s all the time been, and Ridley mentioned he was completely satisfied to see the “tone has been actually good right here this week.”

“Golf brings folks collectively, and I am equally hopeful this week Augusta may be the start of a path ahead for our sport,” he mentioned.

For now, all paths lead towards a inexperienced jacket. And that makes this Masters no totally different from so many others.

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