Not many people watched LIV Golf’s 2023 season-opening event in Mayakoba this past weekend. Those that did might have caught a moment in which announcer David Feherty proffered some praise on LIV CEO Greg Norman that defied logic.
At one point in the broadcast, which was visible on some, but not all, CW affiliates, Norman stopped by the booth to chat. After he stepped away, Feherty gave Norman a turbo ego boost, saying “he changed the game, that man did,” before adding that “back in the 80s and 90s, probably the most recognizable athlete on the planet.”
Catching up on the @livgolf_league broadcast (no spoilers!) against my doctor’s orders. I was rewarded with Feherty saying Greg Norman changed the game and was probably the most recognizable athlete on the planet in the 80s and 90s. Gotta feed the Commishes ego! pic.twitter.com/BO7VjiGxwe
— Geoff Shackelford (@GeoffShac) February 26, 2023
It’s hard to imagine even the most ardent golf enthusiast who covered the sport in the 1980s and 1990s thinking that was true.
There’s no denying that Norman was one of the most accomplished golfers of his era. The Shark’s career includes 20 PGA Tour victories, 14 European Tour victories, and two Open Championships wins. He never won the Masters, U.S. Open, or PGA Championship, infamously finishing in second place eight times across the four majors.
While Norman was among the best golfers of the 1980s, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’d say he was actually the best. Tom Watson, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros, and Jack Nicklaus all have cases for that. You could argue that Norman’s merchandising and business moves made him more of a brand than other golfers, but even then his reputation was always somewhat marred by his lack of major wins on the course.
It would have been one thing for Feherty to say that Norman was the most recognizable golfer on the planet, but he specifically said “most recognizable athlete on the planet.” Many people pointed out the flaws in that logic.
??? So Greg Norman was more recognizable than Michael Jordan? Got it. If LIV wants to be taken seriously, maybe start by toning down the propaganda. https://t.co/BohpcBfZ3x
— Alex Myers (@AlexMyers3) February 27, 2023
Tell David that Michael Jordan would like a word. https://t.co/615Yp98AEJ
— Mike Lupica (@MikeLupica) February 27, 2023
This pretty much cements LIV is entirely satirical at best and cannot possibly be taken the least bit seriously. Fehrety is objectively wrong, and even worse, he knows it. https://t.co/rJmz4JyFHR
— Golf Unfiltered (@GolfUnfiltered) February 26, 2023
While the claim is objectively absurd, it does take on a depressing quality within the context of where LIV Golf is and how it has presented itself as the hipper, cooler, more modern option to the PGA Tour. When your lead commentator feels the need to appease the fragile ego of your CEO during a lightly viewed broadcast of your first event of the season, it speaks to what is actually driving things and how they can end up squandering whatever goodwill they earned last year (and there wasn’t much to begin with).
Given what so many people already think about LIV Golf’s financial backers, trotting out propaganda during your broadcast isn’t going to help matters.