LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman confirmed his league has been attempting to sign Hideki Matsuyama.

In an interview with Australian Golf Digest’s Brad Clifton for an upcoming magazine piece, Norman was speaking on his feelings towards Rory McIlroy, mentioning that, should the Ulsterman complete the career grand slam this spring at the Masters, Norman would still reach out to congratulate him despite their differences during golf’s civil war.

“One thing I do is I take emotion out of everything,” Norman said. “I’m very good at that. I don’t bring emotion into business. I don’t bring emotion into anything. If you do, I think that shows the weakness of an individual … When Rory missed out on the [2011] Masters when he hit that wayward tee shot on 10, I sent him a message of support afterwards because I felt his pain, and he responded. And if Rory wins this year’s Masters, I’ll say congratulations on achieving the grand slam, right? That’s sport and that’s sportsmanship, and that’s the humility of the game. That’s me. That’s how I would do it.”

This point proved a conduit to the reveal that Norman recently did the same to Matsuyama following his win at Riviera this month in the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational, while acknowledging that Norman has been pursuing the Japanese star for the Saudi-backed circuit.

“I’ll give you another example. We’ve been trying to get Hideki Matsuyama. I don’t mind admitting that,” Norman said. “When Hideki won in L.A., what’s the first thing I did? I said, ‘Congratulations, Hideki. I’m proud of you, mate.’”

It should be noted that Norman has said many things during professional golf’s divide, although his remarks come at an interesting time in the sport, as the framework agreement between LIV and the PGA Tour threatens to dissolve following Jon Rahm’s defection to LIV and the tour’s subsequent deal with Strategic Sports Group, a private-equity investment consortium. Matsuyama, 32, has been one of the most coveted players for the fledgling league during golf’s schism thanks to his megastardom in Japan, a celebrity that has only grown since his Masters triumph in 2021. Matsuyama’s loyalty is of the utmost importance to the PGA Tour; though he’s not marketed in the same vein as other marquee attractions at American events, Matsuyama is a core marketing piece when it comes to the tour’s business dealings with Asia. Prior to Rahm’s signing, sources confirmed to Golf Digest that Matsuyama’s proposed deal would have been the richest contract conferred by LIV to a player.

With his Riviera win, Matsuyama broke the record for most tour wins (nine) by an Asian-born player, a mark he previously shared with K.J. Choi. Matsuyama is currently ranked No. 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking. LIV Golf will host its third event of the 2024 season this week in Saudi Arabia, where Anthony Kim is expected to make his first professional start in over a decade.

Image: Harry How