Rory McIlroy says Greg Norman must 'exit stage left' from LIV Golf

Rory McIlroy remains hopeful that the fractured state of golf between established tours and Saudi-funded LIV Golf can heal, starting with the departure of Greg Norman.

Four-time major champion hopes sides can 'mend fences' if LIV CEO departs

Rory McIlroy, seen above in September, said LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman must step aside in order for the PGA Tour to "mend fences" with the Saudi-backed startup. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy remains hopeful that the fractured state of golf between established tours and Saudi-funded LIV Golf can heal. He said Tuesday that probably won't happen until two lawsuits are decided and Greg Norman is no longer involved in LIV Golf.

"I think Greg needs to go. I think he just needs to exit stage left," McIlroy said at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. "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.'

"But right now, it's a stalemate because there can't be any other way."

The Daily Telegraph reported last week that Norman would be moving away from his role as commissioner and CEO and that LIV Golf was pursuing Mark King, who formerly ran TaylorMade and now is CEO of Taco Bell. Majed Al Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation, denied the report.

LIV Golf is now the lead plaintiff in an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, with a trial date scheduled for January 2024 if it goes that far. Courts in the United Kingdom are expected to rule in February whether the European tour can punish players for joining LIV Golf.

It was the latest barb McIlroy has tossed at Norman, dating to McIlroy gleefully pointing out in his TV interview in June after he won the Canadian Open that he had more career PGA Tour wins than Norman.

Managing Director of LIV Golf Majed Al Sorour, left, denied reports that LIV Golf was in the market for a new CEO to replace Greg Norman, right. (Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

What might have prompted the latest remark was Norman's interview in Australia on Monday, during which it was announced that LIV Golf would be playing in Adelaide next April.

Norman was talking about the value competition brings to business and sport when he mentioned how PGA Tour players are benefiting from LIV Golf, primarily through a $100 million US "Player Impact Program" that has doubled in size in response to the LIV threat.

The PGA Tour also has 12 elevated events starting next year that average $20 million in prize money.

"Every PGA Tour player should be thanking LIV, including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, because the PIP program wouldn't have been increased without LIV," Norman said. "Prize money wouldn't have been increased without LIV, all these other things that have been introduced by the PGA Tour because of LIV. Competition is the best thing in life, in business and in sport. LIV is not going to go anywhere."

McIlroy would beg to differ.

"I've said this a million times: Tiger is the reason that we are playing for as much as we are playing for," McIlroy said. "Tiger is the reason that stature of our game is where it is. The generation of Tiger and the generation coming after Tiger have all benefited from him and his achievements and what he's done for the game of golf.

"I don't think Tiger should be thankful to anyone for anything. I think everyone else in the game should be thankful."

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now