In Part II of his offseason chat with the Irish Independent, Rory McIlroy detailed his rift with Greg Norman and how his relationship with Ryder Cup teammate Sergio Garcia has deteriorated thanks to LIV Golf.
Norman, LIV Golf’s CEO and commissioner, had suggested McIlroy was ‘brainwashed’ to be against the Saudi Arabia-backed circuit that’s solely supported by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund. For McIlroy, that’s when the gloves came off.
‘I thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to make it my business now to be as much of a pain in his arse as possible,” said McIlroy.
The Northern Irishman is a man of his word, seeing as he’s been on the frontlines for the PGA Tour in its battle with LIV Golf for supremacy in the sport. McIlroy most-recently called for Norman to leave his position with LIV and ‘exit stage left’ — a sentiment also echoed by Tiger Woods – and has thrown a fair share of shade Norman’s way since his Canadian Open win in June, the same week of LIV’s first event near London.
GREG NORMAN: ‘I pay zero attention to (Rory McIlroy) and (Tiger Woods)’
Before the beef got meaty, McIlroy said he and Norman exchanged messages in April after he watched the ESPN documentary on Norman’s collapse at the 1996 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.”
McIlroy claimed Norman responded by saying, ‘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.’
GARCIA: Sergio Garcia comes to Greg Norman’s defense after Tiger Woods comments
As for Garcia, McIlroy said the Spaniard told him he was joining LIV on the range at the Wells Fargo Championship – where Garcia blew up on a rules official and hinted at his departure in the opening round – and offered McIlroy a ride to LIV’s opener on his new plane.
Garcia and McIlroy attended each other’s weddings and have been teammates on five separate occasions for the Ryder Cup, where they boast a 2-0-2 record when paired together. McIlroy even said Garcia was one of his idols.
McIlroy said Garcia texted him Friday of the U.S. Open, ‘basically telling me to shut up about LIV, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.’
‘I was pretty offended and sent him back a couple of daggers and that was it,’ McIlroy said.
Despite the noise off the course, McIlroy found quite a bit of success on the course in 2022. The 33-year-old won his third FedEx Cup title on the PGA Tour thanks to three victories at the CJ Cup, RBC Canadian Open and Tour Championship. He also claimed his fourth Race to Dubai title despite a winless campaign on the DP World Tour.