Norman: We'll defend breakaway players

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Norman: we'll defend breakaway players

Greg Norman has pledged to “defend, reimburse and represent” any players who should face sanctions if they take part in his breakaway Golf Invitational Series.

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Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood are among the professionals to have asked for the required release from the PGA Tour to play the first 54-hole event at Centurion Club in England, which boasts a total prize fund of $US25million ($A36 million) and $US4m ($A5.7 m) to the winner.

However, PGA Tour members were informed on Tuesday that releases will not be granted, leaving them open to possible bans or fines if they do tee it up in St Albans from June 9-11.

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Asked at a LIV Golf media event at Centurion if his legal team had injunctions in place to protect players in the face of any bans, including potentially from major championships, Australian golfing great Norman, the CEO of LIV Golf, said: “Yes.

“We are going to back up the players, we are going to be there for them, for whatever that is. We're ready to go. We don't want to go, but we're ready to go.

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“It will be the player's choice. I'm not going to begrudge any player who makes a decision to play wherever he wants. We're giving them the ability because we believe LIV is here for a long period of time.

“If you want to go exclusively to the PGA Tour, happy days, go do it. I guarantee that a lot of people will come eventually to play with LIV Golf.

“I've said to the players, 'we've got your back. Simple as that'. We will defend, we will reimburse and we will represent.”

Releases were granted for the Saudi International earlier this year, but that is an event previously staged by the European Tour and now sanctioned by the Asian Tour.

The LIV Golf events will be seen as a potential rival tour, with Norman saying he has been given an extra $US2billion ($A2.9 billion) in funding from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund to build the series of eight events into a full 14-event league by 2024.

Given the strategic alliance between the circuits, the European Tour is expected to follow the PGA Tour in refusing releases for an event held close to its headquarters at Wentworth.

“If none of the top 20 (in the world) come, it's still going ahead,” said Norman.

“There is still value in there. Imagine if a 15-year-old kid out of Asia came in and won the first event. He's the next superstar.”

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