McIlroy calls out Greg Norman: ‘no one is going to talk unless there’s an adult in the room…’

The press conference that Rory McIlroy gave on Tuesday at the DP World Tour Championship was unusual even by the openness standards that have become his trademark.

McIlroy might have responded in a variety of ways. What does the PGA Tour and the LIV, the two golf circuits at war with one another, need to make up? He may have responded respectfully by suggesting potential future courses of action. He might have made up some upbeat statements about the sport’s bright future and the current generation of young golfers. He might have preached corporate gospel about working together and the evils of greed. The four-time major champion, however, refrained from doing so.

The reality is that he aimed squarely for the neck.

“So I think there’s a few things that need to happen,” he 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. You’re limited in what you can do.”

Who, if anybody, can halt LIV’s lawsuit against the PGA Tour? That’s an interesting question.

“I think Greg [Norman] needs to go. I think he just needs to exit stage left,” McIlroy said. “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.”

Exit stage left.

The remarks are a surprising rebuke, even for McIlroy, who has been one of Norman and LIV’s most vociferous opponents for a long time. His criticism of Norman reflects the chasm between the LIV CEO and the rest of the professional golfing world and the animosity that Norman has generated on both sides of the LIV Golf argument.

That’s when he made his famous “if those two things happen, then things can happen” remark. “But right now, it’s a stalemate because there can’t be any other way.”

For his part, Norman’s continued leadership of golf’s Saudi-backed circuit has been called into question in recent weeks. As the leader of the Saudi Golf Federation, Yasir Al-Ramayyan is reportedly looking at other candidates, including as former TaylorMade CEO Mark King, to take the reins of the LIV. (These rumors were refuted by LIV.)

The former major champ and current face of LIV has been motivated by what many have called a “personal vendetta” against the PGA Tour originating back to his playing days. The gulf between the two groups widened with Norman’s early mockery of PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and LIV’s following litigation against the Tour.

Recently, Norman has become more affable. In a series of recent news interviews, he has advocated for calm in the professional golf industry, saying that LIV doesn’t want to ruin the PGA Tour.

On Monday he said, “We are here for the game of golf.” “We are here for the betterment of the game of golf. We’re the force for good in the game of golf. “

But his remarks can only go so far until his tour changes its openly unfriendly stance, which many of its own players would appreciate.

“Hopefully something can happen, who knows?” McIlroy echoed. “But 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. It seems like it’s a bit of a stalemate.”

The future of professional golf might go in a variety of directions. It’s clear that Rory McIlroy and many others on the PGA Tour side see just one way to find tranquility.

 Here’s a hint: it has nothing to do with Greg Norman.

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