The Asian Tour will be forced to change the date of its first International Series London event, after Greg Norman’s new Saudi-backed golf venture muscled its way into the schedule. Norman, who is bankrolling the tour’s new 10-tournament series through his LIV Golf Investments firm, launched another eight-event invitational series on Thursday aimed at taking on the PGA Tour. Offering US$255 million in prize money, the LIV Golf Invitational series will hold tournaments in England, the United States, Thailand and Saudi Arabia and is geared towards enticing the game’s best to switch allegiances. In a statement, organisers said the first 54-hole tournament would be at the Centurion Golf Club in Hertfordshire, on June 9 to 11, the week before the US Open. The Asian Tour’s event, with its US$2 million purse, was expected to be at same location from June 9 to 12. A source said the Asian Tour had been caught “completely off guard” by Norman’s announcement. The International Series London event is now expect to take place in the first week of June. Norman’s investment firm, which is primarily backed by the Saudi Arabia sovereign wealth fund, said it was providing more than US$400 million in “seed money” to launch the new series, which blends 54-hole stroke play with a team concept. The firm has already committed US$300 million to the development of the Asian Tour. And to great fanfare in February, Norman joined Cho Minn Thant, the Tour’s CEO, to proclaim a “new era for Asian golf”. “We are setting the Asian Tour up as a powerful new force on the world golf stage,” Norman said at the time. Now the tour must take a back seat, as Norman’s rivalry with the American and European establishments takes centre stage. Seven of the invitational events will have a US$25 million purse – US$20 million for medal play (US$4 million for the winner) and US$5 million for the top three teams. In comparison, the PGA Tour’s richest tournament, The Players Championship, had a $20 million purse this year. Cameron Smith, who won the weather-delayed event on Monday, took home 18 per cent (US$3.6 million) of the prize money. But no players have been announced as competing in the breakaway league yet, and the PGA and Europe’s DP World Tour have threatened defectors to the new league with lifetime bans. Saudi Golf League to take on PGA Tour, Greg Norman says ‘we will not stop’ “In year one, there will be a max of 48 players on 12 four-man teams and a truly global field with golfers invited from all tours around the world to beta test the new format,” said a statement from the organisers. “Each event will have teams comprised of different players determined by a draft the week of the event.” I mean, holy hell. Greg Norman sent this letter to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan. “This is just the beginning. It is certainly not the end.” pic.twitter.com/KOO4XRII1k — Dan Rapaport (@Daniel_Rapaport) February 24, 2022 The tournaments will have no cuts and all competitors will start simultaneously, with the season-ending eighth event set to offer an even larger reward. “Following the first seven events, an individual champion will be crowned offering a total purse of $30m for the top three individuals of the season,” organisers said. “The season-ending eighth event will be a team championship that will provide $50m in total prize funds.” The schedule for the Saudi-backed rival league includes four tournaments in the United States. One is at Trump National in Bedminster, New Jersey, which originally was to host the PGA Championship this year until the PGA of America voted to move it after the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory. The others will be Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Portland, Oregon, which previously hosted the US Women’s Open; Rich Harvest Farms outside Chicago, which once hosted a Solheim Cup; and The International, a private club about 30 miles west of Boston. Pro golf heading back to Hong Kong, as Asian Tour signals intent to go global Players who join the PGA Tour are required to play a minimum of 15 tournaments. According to the regulations, tour members are not allowed to play another tournament when eligible for a PGA Tour event held the same week without a conflicting event release from the commissioner. However, the regulations say conflicting event releases will not be approved for tournaments held in North America. Three of the LIV Golf Invitational tournaments will happen opposite PGA Tour events, the John Deere Classic (July 1-3), Rocket Mortgage Classic (July 29-31) and an event in September as the tour starts its new season. PGA Tour spokesman Joel Schuchmann said the tour’s position had not changed from Commissioner Jay Monahan’s comment last week that the tour was “moving on” from talk of a Saudi league the last five months. The top 10 players in the world have said they are staying put on the PGA Tour. “We have too much momentum and too much to accomplish to be consistently distracted by rumours of other golf leagues and their attempts to disrupt our players, our partners, and most importantly our fans from enjoying the tour and the game we all love so much,” Monahan said.