COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jack Nicklaus said he met with the organizers of a Saudi Arabian-financed golf league but has no interest in being the face of a rival circuit to the PGA Tour.
“I did it out of courtesy to them because we’re doing a golf course for them,” Nicklaus said Tuesday during a news conference at the Memorial. “I’ve got zero interest in wanting to do something like that. I don’t care what kind of money they would have thrown at me. My allegiance has been to the PGA Tour. I grew up on the PGA Tour. I helped found the PGA Tour as it is today. My allegiance is there, and it’s going to stay there.”
Nicklaus, 82, told the Fire Pit Collective website earlier this month that the Saudi Arabians had offered him more than $100 million to lead the league that is now being fronted by Greg Norman. Nicklaus said he turned down the offer twice.
“They obviously called me,” Nicklaus said. “And we’ve had a contract on a golf course in Saudi Arabia for over a couple of years. Essentially the same group. So when they called Jackie — my son Jackie organized the meeting, and they came into the Bear’s Club (in Jupiter, Florida). We met a couple of guys. John Rees and Paul Stringer from the Nicklaus Companies were there because we were doing the golf course, and they proposed this thing to me.”
Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer were among the players who split from the PGA of America and hired Joe Dey as the tour’s first commissioner in 1968. Nicklaus won 73 times on tour, including a record 18 major championships.
The LIV Golf Invitational Series is scheduled to stage its first event June 9-11 at Centurion Club outside London. The eight-event LIV series will feature six tournaments played in the United States. It will include seven regular-season events and a team championship match-play finale Oct. 28-30 at Trump Doral in Miami.
LIV Golf has yet to announce the field for the London event, which will feature 48 players on 12 teams. The 54-hole tournament will have a shotgun start and no cut.
The PGA Tour denied conflicting-event releases for players who requested to compete in the London event. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has threatened players who play with discipline, including potential suspensions and/or a lifetime ban.