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 a good time Scottie Scheffler as the newest winner, to share laughs, recollections and even just a few tears.

That is how it’s yearly at Augusta Nationwide.

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

“I might not have identified that something was occurring on this planet {of professional} golf apart from the norm,” Ridley stated on the eve of a Masters in contrast to some other. “So I feel — and I am hopeful — that this week would possibly get folks pondering in slightly bit completely 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 gained the Masters back-to-back since Woods in 2002, and with Scheffler the No.1 participant on this planet, he has a superb opportunity.

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 wish to play nice,” Harold Varner III stated, 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 discuss 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 taking part in for that inexperienced jacket,” Ridley stated. “It is an awesome image of celebration of this recreation. And we’re trying ahead to seeing somebody donning it on Sunday afternoon.”

The 2023 Masters Event will likely be dwell on 9 and 9Now from April 7-10.

Normalcy is tough to seek 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, concerning 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 skill 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 Each day Telegraph if a LIV participant gained the Masters, the opposite 17 can be ready for him behind the 18th inexperienced to have a good time. 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 stated. “I am upset as a result of it is so petty, however in fact I am going to nonetheless be watching.”

Ridley was fast to level that Norman, sometimes 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 challenge and the motive force there’s that I would like the main focus this week to be on the Masters competitors, on the nice gamers which can be taking part, the best gamers on this planet,” Ridley stated.

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

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 massive title to signal with LIV — although Phil Mickelson declined. The beginning occasions had a combination of PGA Tour and LIV Golf gamers, although not one of the LIV gamers are a part of the featured teams that will likely be streamed dwell.

Brooks Koepka performed a observe spherical on Tuesday with McIlroy, who has delivered a few of the sharpest digs at LIV Golf over the past 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 needed to play a observe spherical.

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

“I suppose you may say that. It is extra simply two mates desirous to play collectively,” Koepka stated. “I simply needed to play with him, simply examine my recreation. I do know he is been taking part in properly. It was good for me to see, and I feel it is enjoyable to have the ability to go play with these guys.”

After which he was again to taking part in with LIV colleagues on Wednesday.

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

The concept is to make this the identical Masters because it’s all the time been, and Ridley stated he was joyful 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 recreation,” he stated.

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

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