One of the biggest critics of LIV Golf believes the time has come for the PGA Tour and the controversial Saudi-backed circuit to sit down and talk because golf is “ripping itself apart.”
Rory McIlroy, who has been outspoken about LIV Golf since it launched earlier this year, said on Wednesday at St. Andrews that the “ball is in [LIV’s] court.”
The four-time major winner, who’s ranked No. 2 in the world, admitted there are numerous challenges moving forward, with an antitrust lawsuit from LIV and a handful of its players against the PGA Tour, along with another legal resolution involving LIV players and the DP World Tour expected early next year. But he also said that the two sides need to figure out a solution with the game having become completely divided.
“I’ve always said there’s a time and place where everyone involved needs to sit down and work together,’’ McIlroy said at the Dunhill Links Championship. “It’s very hard to do that right now with court cases going on. There’s a natural timeline to let things settle down a little bit. People can go into those meetings with a cooler head.Rory McIlroy during a Alfred Dunhill Links Championship practice round at St. Andrews on Sept. 28, 2022.Getty Images
”If they want to come to the table and try to play nicely within the sandbox that’s already created, the opportunity is there.”
Part of the problem for LIV is that its events do not offer world ranking points, which is one of the major avenues for players not otherwise eligible to compete in golf’s four major championships.
McIlroy said on Wednesday that players from LIV do deserve to get points. He’s also not against them competing in majors, though he added LIV is “making up their own rules.”
The process for LIV to be approved for its tournaments to offer ranking points, though, is not a quick one. It can take months, if not longer.LIV Golf CEO and commissioner Greg Norman has slammed Rory McIlroy over his LIV Golf stance.USA TODAY Sports
The PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, for now, have also shown little interest in sitting down with LIV to form a truce.
“I don’t want a fractured game, McIlroy said. “The game of golf is ripping itself apart and that’s no good for anyone. It’s not good for the guys on the traditional system or the guys on the other side either.
“Right now, with where everything is, it’s probably not the right time but we probably can’t leave it too much longer. I’m all for getting around the table and sorting things out.”
Meanwhile, don’t expect McIlroy and LIV Golf’s CEO and commissioner Greg Norman to be exchanging Christmas cards anytime soon.
The bombastic Aussie can’t help himself when it comes to taking a dig at anyone who opposes LIV and McIlroy was the latest target of his animus.Rory McIlroy plays a shot to the first green during a practice round at St. Andrews on Sept. 28, 2022.Getty Images
“Well, my message is, Rory, you’re an independent contractor,” Norman told Piers Morgan. “You have the right to make your decision. Remember, Rory started on the European tour. Then Rory decided to leave the European tour to go play where all the money is, where I went to play, to the PGA Tour.
“Don’t begrudge the other players for making a decision, that is a rightful decision under their independent contractual rights, to go and do it. It’s just a shame that people have taken this stance, when you look back over a period of time, they’ve pretty much done the same thing themselves.”
In reality, though, McIlroy, a member of both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, was specifically critical of players like Brooks Koepka saying one thing, then doing another and bolting for LIV. He also said previously that he didn’t hold a grudge against those who did leave.
“I don’t begrudge anyone for going over to play LIV or taking guaranteed money,” McIlroy said in August. “If that’s your prerogative and what you want to do, totally fine. I think where the resentment comes from, from the membership of this tour, is the fact that they want to try to get their way back in here with no consequences, and anyone that’s read the PGA Tour handbook or abided by the rules and regulations, that would feel very unfair to them.”Rory McIlroy speaks at a press conference at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Sept. 28, 2022.Getty Images
This is hardly the first war of words between the two stars.
When McIlroy won the Canadian Open in June for his 21st career victory on the PGA Tour — one more than Norman tallied in his Hall of Fame career — he took a not-so-veiled shot at the Aussie in his post-round interview. “This is a day I’ll remember for a long, long time,” he said. “Twenty-first PGA Tour win. One more than someone else. That gave me a little bit of extra incentive today.”
Now Norman is accusing McIlroy and the Tour of being hypocrites.
“The hypocrisy coming out of this is so deafening it’s ridiculous,” Norman said. “The PGA Tour has title sponsors that have a great relationship, a working relationship, for a commercial opportunity with the Saudi Government, with PIF [Saudi Public Investment Fund].”
Elsewhere, LIV is reportedly close to inking a broadcast deal with Fox Sports, according to Golfweek, to televise its tournaments on FS1. However, while networks typically pay for the rights to broadcast a league’s games, the opposite appears to be true here with LIV apparently willing to buy its way onto the air. So far, its tournaments have only been streamed online.