DUBAI – Greg Norman stands between the PGA Tour and LIV working amicably in the same space, at least in the view of Rory McIlroy.
World No. 1 McIlroy said he doesn’t envision a peaceful relationship between the tours being a realistic goal unless Norman is removed as the public face of the LIV Golf Series, which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
“There’s a few things that I would like to see on the LIV side that needs to happen,” McIlroy said, before this week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
“I think Greg needs to go. I think he just needs to 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 is going to talk unless there’s an adult in the room that can actually try to mend fences.’“
Taco Bell chief executive officer Mark King, previously an executive for Adidas and TaylorMade, was reportedly the target of LIV as a replacement for Norman. But that report was denied by Majed Al Sorour, chief executive officer of the Saudi Golf Federation.
“Any suggestion that changes are being made to Greg’s title or role is patently false,” he said.
King was in attendance at multiple LIV events in its inaugural season but serves no active role with the tour.
Norman helped to spark backlash from the PGA Tour by declaring “free agency is here to stay.” LIV has wooed multiple top players, from Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia to Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, with large contracts and the promise of fewer tournaments and scheduled events.
McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama and Jon Rahm turned down aggressive overtures to remain with the PGA Tour.
World Rankings points are not being assigned to LIV Golf Series members, which impacts the eligible field for certain tournaments and Major events, including the British Open and the US Masters.
The Ryder Cup is also stuck in the middle of the tug of war between tours. Missing out on the coveted international competition and the prospect of being blocked from one of the traditional Majors in golf was a factor in a lawsuit brought by LIV players.
“It’s obviously been a very contentious year in golf,” McIlroy said. “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. So I fear for the game when that’s going on.
“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.” REUTERS