Golf: Justin Thomas says Greg Norman didn’t hit LIV signing targets

Greg Norman spruiked his phone was running hot with requests to join LIV Golf when he landed the mega-signing of Jon Rahm after months of speculation.

But it took a last-minute call from England’s Ryder Cup star Tyrrell Hatton just to give Rahm a single worthy teammate for his newly confirmed Legion XIII line-up, with the final rosters for the new season that begins on Friday underwhelming at best.

“I know my phone is blowing up,” Norman said after Rahm inked his deal for a reported $566m.

“I think word is getting out there among all the players around the world, even the top players, the best players in the world.”

But as Hatton’s move was confirmed, Justin Thomas, who stayed loyal to the PGA Tour amid constant noise around several potential top-line recruits, was blunt enough to declare Norman and LIV “haven’t gotten anything close” to what was predicted.

In confirming Hatton’s place on the 2024 LIV rosters, and in Rahm’s team, Norman again jumped on the hype machine, pumping up former amateur star Caleb Surratt and Zimbabwe’s Kieran Vincent, who came through the inaugural promotion tournament.

“I’m thrilled to welcome his new teammates, Ryder Cup star Tyrrell Hatton and young gun Caleb Surratt, along with LIV Golf Promotions standout Kieran Vincent, who will undoubtedly be great additions to the league,” he said.

“This is another exciting moment in the natural evolution of LIV Golf and the future for the sport.”
For his part, Rahm said he was proud of the “brand” his new team was building and he wanted to “fight alongside a group of guys who aligned perfectly with what the team stands for”.

But while he labelled Hatton a “fierce competitor, proven champion”, the best he could come up with for Vincent was that he’s a “steady, talented ball striker”, hardly an endorsement to drag any extra eyeballs to the 14-event season.

Announcements confirming the signing of Australian Lucas Herbert to Cameron Smith’s Ripper GC team and 2022 Australian Open champ Adrian Meronk are expected to come late on Wednesday ahead of the opening round of the first event in Mexico.

But while Rahm was a massive get, the trio of Hatton, Herbert and Meronk as the key signings for LIV’s third year left Thomas feeling like the plan had fallen well short.

“Yeah, at least from what Greg said, they haven’t gotten anything close to what he’s kind of said,” he said.

“It sounded like they were going to sign 10 or 15 people this however many months and haven’t.

“Obviously, I’m bummed (Hatton signed) and I wish he wasn’t, but it’s not like I’m going to call him and give him some spiel about how he shouldn’t.

“I hope he’s done his homework and research and feels it’s the best decision, but it is what it is I guess.”

Fully buying into the concept of a team name and brand, Rahm said the inspiration was drawn from the great Roman legions.

“I wanted to go down the warrior spirit mythology side for the team’s name,” Rahm said.

“The term loyalty is very important for me – I think it embodies the warrior spirit through its decisiveness and ready-for-battle mindset. During the Roman Empire, there was the iconic Legion XIII Gemina in Caesar’s army. They believed in the credo of faithful loyalty.”

The opening LIV event begins on Friday at Mayakoba.