Like the existential battle between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, the related war of words shows no signs of ending soon.
The latest cannon shot was fired by Rory McIlroy on Tuesday when he suggested that any potential resolution between the two groups can’t begin until Greg Norman, LIV’s CEO and commissioner, is out of the picture.
“Greg needs to go,” McIlroy said during his news conference (starting at the 9:25 mark of the video clip below) before this week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, where he enters as the leader in the tour’s season standings. “I think he needs to just exit stage left.
“He’s made his mark, but I think now is the right time to sort of say, look, you’ve got this thing off the ground, but no one’s going to talk unless there’s an adult in the room that can actually try to mend fences.”
Just because McIlroy offered his opinion, it doesn’t mean Norman is likely to step away. If anything, it may reinforce Norman and LIV Golf’s position that they are determined to succeed on their own terms.
Last week, Saudi-funded LIV issued a statement denying a report that Norman was likely to be removed as CEO of the organization, calling the report “patently false.”
McIlroy’s comments, however, added to the simmering acrimony that has developed over the past several months as LIV Golf has lured several top stars away from the PGA Tour and forced the tour to significantly restructure its model. Norman has been a frequent target of critics who believe his aggressive style, combined with his tempestuous history with the PGA Tour, are detrimental to any potential solution to the increasingly fractured nature of professional golf.
Even as he criticized Norman, McIlroy said it is unlikely that LIV Golf and the PGA Tour will reach a compromise any time soon. Two LIV lawsuits, one involving the PGA Tour and another involving the DP World Tour, are substantial roadblocks.
“Nothing will happen if those two (lawsuits) are still going on,” McIlroy said before suggesting Norman step aside.
“Right now, I think the separate entities, the PGA Tour, European Tour and LIV are both going to be … one is a very different product to the other, and they are just going to keep going whether something happens, and whether that’s in the hand of a court or a judge or something else happens along the way, no one really knows. But right now, it seems like it’s a bit of a stalemate.”
With rumors of more players soon opting for LIV Golf’s guaranteed millions, McIlroy pushed again for finding a workable solution.
It is not the first time McIlroy has pointed the finger at Norman. After winning the RBC Canadian Open in June, his 21st PGA Tour victory, McIlroy said the victory was special because it gave him one more tour win than Norman.
Last month before the CJ Cup in South Carolina, McIlroy was poised to regain the No. 1 world ranking. Having held that spot for more than 100 weeks in his career, McIlroy was asked whether he had a target for how many weeks he would like to be No. 1.
His answer: “332.”
Norman was No. 1 for 331 weeks in his career.
It’s unlikely that McIlroy’s latest comments will provoke any change from Norman and LIV Golf. Before the LIV finale at Trump National Doral last month, Norman pointed the finger at the PGA Tour, saying most of the noise surrounding this battle was being created by it, not by LIV Golf.
Beyond the personal point he was making, McIlroy has been outspoken about the damage that the disruption is doing to the professional game. With rumors of more players soon opting for LIV Golf’s guaranteed millions, McIlroy pushed again for finding a workable solution.
“It’s obviously been a very contentious year in golf. And I’ve said this: The best thing in golf is to have all the best players playing together, and what’s happening right now, that’s not happening,” McIlroy said.
“So, I fear for the game when that’s going on. That’s why, again, with everything – it’s contentious because there’s lawsuits going on and people suing people; it’s very, very messy.
“So again, if all that stuff can be sorted out one way or the other, then you can get to the stage where there’s forgiveness and people can have dialogue and come to some sort of common ground or compromise. But while all this is happening, it’s very hard to do that.”
Top: Rory McIlroy during a press conference before the DP World Championship
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