Legendary sports manager James Erskine calls out 'unfair' treatment of LIV golfers

One of the most well-known sports managers in the world has called out the hypocrisy of those criticising golfers for joining the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.

James Erskine, who has managed the likes of Shane Warne, Tiger Woods and Muhammad Ali, was reacting to the news that British Open champion and World No. 2 Cameron Smith had accepted a lucrative offer - believed to be in the region of $143million - to join the breakaway series. 

While he has yet to confirm the move, Smith looks set to join the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter in jumping ship, and Erskine said the kind of money the players are being offered to participate in the tour would be hard for anyone to turn down.

The players in question have received plenty of blowback for their decision to join the Saudi-backed series in light of that country's poor human rights record, but Erskine noted that many people around the world regularly do business with Saudi Arabia, including most governments and corporations in the west.

"So many people do business with Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, where they have very different rules and regulations and different respect for women," Erskine told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"But you can name just about any company and they will probably have a link to Saudi Arabia, (be it the likes of) Rolex, Range Rover, Rolls Royce, Ferrari.

"Everyone's doing business with them, so I think it's very unfair to turn around and say because you're a professional golfer, you shouldn't deal with Saudi Arabia."

Why should an Australian citizen like Smith be criticised for doing business with Saudi Arabia, when the Australian government does the same thing, Erskine asked.

The famous manager also said he believed the arrival of the LIV Golf Series signals a start of a war to control golf around the world, and reckons it could finally prompt the PGA Tour to become more of an international tour.

"LIV Golf is about [Greg] Norman and others having a beef with the US PGA Tour thinking they've got too much control. About 25 years ago Norman tried to do a tour and it failed," Erskine added.

"Basically, Greg Norman is doing it for money. Of course, he is being highly, highly paid. Greg Norman is a very monetary person. I'm not saying it's right or wrong. But basically, that's the truth.

"If I was heading up the US, PGA, or the European PGA, I would turn around and say, 'Come on guys, we're going to create our own world tour'.

"A true world tour where all the top players could come and play on a regular basis and play for big money in countries which can't necessarily raise the huge amount of money required. That would be awesome."

READ MORE: Rory McIlroy believes it was right decision not to allow LIV trio into FedEx Cup play-offs

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