Greg Norman. Alamy Stock Photo
thaw in relations

Greg Norman: McIlroy 'falling on his sword' about LIV golf can be a turning point

McIlroy conceded he has been too judgemental of some players who have gone to LIV.

LIV GOLF CEO Greg Norman says Rory McIlroy’s tempered views of LIV golf can mark a significant turning point in the sport’s civil war. 

The Saudi-backed LIV tour has caused unprecedented upheaval in golf since it launched in 2022, poaching several high-profile stars from the PGA Tour. McIlroy had been among the breakaway tour’s most vocal critics, but diluted many of his harshest words in an appearance on Gary Neville’s Stick to Football podcast earlier this week. 

“I think at this point, I was maybe a little judgmental of the guys who went to LIV Golf at the start”, said McIlroy. 

“I think it was a bit of a mistake on my part because I now realise that not everyone is in my position or in Tiger Woods’ position. I can’t judge people for making that decision, so if I regret anything, it was probably being too judgmental at the start. I wouldn’t say I’ve lost the fight against LIV, but I’ve just accepted the fact that this is part of our sport now.

“At the end of the day, we’re professional golfers and we play to make a living and make money, so I understand it.”

These concessions have been seized upon by a couple of high-profile LIV figures, including CEO Norman. 

“The reason I say I appreciate Rory falling on his sword, to some degree, is the fact that he did judge us by not knowing the facts,” Norman said on LIV’s ‘Fairway to Heaven’ podcast. 

“He judged us on other people’s thoughts and opinions. So, I say, ‘Hey, thank you Rory’. We all knew it was going to work within the golf ecosystem. We all wanted to be there, we are going to be there: he said that. To me, this is a hugely significant turning point for everybody.”

McIlroy’s revised opinions comes as the PGA Tour are locked in negotiations with the DP World Tour and LIV backers PIF to merge into a single commercial entity, likely to create a unified global tour. An initial deadline of 31 December last year has been extended. 

McIlroy’s initially staunch opposition to LIV led to barbs toward Norman himself, saying at the end of 2022 that Norman would have to “exit stage left” if there was to be any bridging of the divide between LIV and the PGA Tour. “No one is going to talk unless there’s an adult in the room that can actually try to mend fences”, said McIlroy at the time of Norman. 

Norman, however, remains in charge of LIV, at least for now. 

Another of LIV’s most outspoken boosters, Phil Mickelson, also welcomed McIlroy’s comments this week. 

“This quote and the many others made today by Rory probably weren’t easy to say”, Mickelson posted on X, formerly Twitter. “Let’s not use this as an opportunity to pile on. Rather, It’s time for me and others to let go of our hostilities and work towards a positive future. Rahm’s signing [for LIV] is turning into a bridge to bring both sides together,as evidenced by the many comments today and a month ago about changing the rules for the Ryder Cup so Jon and others can play, so let’s use it as such. Until an agreement is reached it will be business as usual for both sides but hopefully without the needless disdain.” 

In his interview with Gary Neville, McIlroy remained critical of those who were outspoken critics of the PGA Tour when they joined LIV, a camp into which Norman and Mickelson both fit. 

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