Greg Norman says he is not the least bit bothered by criticism from PGA Tour golfers Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy and insists he is going to remain as LIV’s CEO for a “long, long time”.
As the acrimonious spat between the two tours heats up, Norman said Saturday he pays no attention to anything Woods and McIlroy say.
Earlier this week, Woods said Norman “has to go,” the same sentiment McIlroy offered last month.
“I pay zero attention to McIlroy and Woods, right?” Norman told Today’s Golfer. “They have their agenda for whatever reason. They’re saying whatever they want to say. It has no bearing or effect on me. I’m going to be with LIV for a long, long period of time.”
The new tour, backed by the Saudis, has whisked away many PGA golfers due to higher financial payouts.
Meanwhile, golfers loyal to the PGA Tour have been irked by the way Norman-led LIV operates.
There is also the matter of both sides filing suit against the other. Woods said the two tours cannot find peace until Norman is removed from his leadership role.
“I see that there’s an opportunity out there if both organizations put a stay on their litigation,” Woods said Tuesday at the Hero World Challenge, where he is the event’s host. “But that’s the problem… they’ve got to put a stay on it. And whether or not they do that or not, there’s no willingness to negotiate if you have a litigation against you.
“So if they both have a stay and then have a break and then they can meet and figure something out, then maybe there is something to be had. But I think Greg has to go, first of all, and then obviously litigation against us and then our countersuit against them, those would then have to be at a stay as well. So then we can talk, we can all talk freely.”
Woods remarks were similar to ones McIlroy made at the DP World Tour Championship last month.
“So I think there’s a few things that need to happen,” McIlroy said. “So there’s obviously two lawsuits going on at the minute – there’s PGA Tour versus LIV, and there’s this one that’s coming up with the DP World Tour in February. Nothing will happen if those two things are still going on, especially – yeah, you’re limited in what you can do.
“And then I think from whatever happens with those two things, there’s a few things that I would like to see on the LIV side that needs to happen. 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.”
Norman believes he can be the one to mend fences despite what Woods and McIlroy think.
“Of course it can happen under my leadership,” Norman explained. “I mean, Tiger might be a messenger, right? Who knows. All I know is we are going to keep doing what we’re doing with LIV, and we are just going to keep moving forward.”
In fact, the two-time major winner and World Golf Hall of Famer says he is doing a stellar job running LIV.
“No matter where I go in the world, nobody – not one person – has said what I’m doing is stupid or wrong,” Norman said.
McIlroy details Norman rift, Garcia fallout
McIlroy, meanwhile, has said his rift with Norman began in February 2020 when talk first surfaced about a “Premier Golf League” backed by Saudi money. McIlroy was the first top player to say he wasn’t interested, adding he wanted to be on the right side of history.
He referenced a moment when Arnold Palmer stood up for the PGA Tour against Norman’s proposed World Golf Tour in 1994. Palmer’s words put a quick end to it.
“He (Norman) wasn’t happy, and we had a pretty testy back-and-forth and he was very condescending. Maybe one day you’ll understand’ and all this (stuff),” McIlroy said in an interview with the Sunday Independent in Ireland .
Then in April this year, McIlroy watched an ESPN documentary on Norman’s collapse to lose the 1996 Masters and was moved enough to send Norman a message that included, “Hopefully it reminds everyone of what a great golfer you were.”
McIlroy said Norman had sent him a touching note after McIlroy lost a four-shot lead in the final round of the 2011 Masters.
“He was great,” McIlroy said. “So I said to him, ‘Watching it reminded me of how you reached out to me in 2011, and I just want to say that I’ll always appreciate it. It meant a lot. I know our opinion on the game of golf right now is very different, but I just wanted you to know that and wish you all the best.’
“So, a bit of an olive branch, and he came back to be straightaway: I really think golf can be a force for good around the world. … I know our opinions are not aligned but I’m just trying to create more opportunities for every golfer around the world.’
“Fine. Really nice,” McIlroy said. “Then, a couple of weeks later, he does an interview with The Washington Post and says I’ve been brainwashed by the PGA Tour.’
“We’ve had this really nice back-and-forth and he says that about me.”
McIlroy added in the interview the PGA Tour is lucky Norman is involved in LIV because “I think if they had found someone less polarizing, LIV could have made more inroads.”
McIlroy said his two golf idols were Woods and Garcia, describing the Spaniard as an exciting young player. They were at each other’s weddings; McIlroy was a groomsman for Garcia.
McIlroy said he didn’t know Garcia was joining LIV Golf until the Spaniard said to him on the range at the Wells Fargo Championship that he had a new plane and offered McIlroy a ride to the first LIV event near London.
The relationship soured at the US Open. McIlroy had said in an interview the previous players joining LIV Golf were taking the easy way out.