Rory McIlroy 'even more opposed to breakaway now'

Rory McIlroy ‘even more opposed to breakaway now’ after Greg Norman backed the Saudi funded golf revolution – and jet-setting star reveals he pays £110,000-a-year to be carbon neutral

  • Rory McIlroy has reaffirmed his opposition to the proposed Saudi world tour
  • He also hit out at former PGA Tour officials who have now signed up to series
  • McIlroy revealed his environmental ‘guilt’ for traversing the globe in private jets

Rory McIlroy delivered a withering rebuke to Greg Norman on Tuesday and took aim at the former officials on the PGA Tour who have now signed up for the Saudi golf revolution.

When asked by Sportsmail, the Northern Irishman made it clear in no uncertain terms that his opposition to a proposed Saudi world tour remains unequivocal. 

If the Saudis thought that appointing Norman as the face of their new operation would lead to a player exodus from the established tours, they might well be dismayed by McIlroy’s coruscating verdict.

Former world No 1 Rory McIlroy remains opposed to a proposed Saudi world tour

‘I’d say my view only hardened after the first appointments,’ he responded, referring to Norman. ‘Then, when other selected individuals also came on board, I’d say that just hardened my opinion even more.’

In Norman’s slipstream came the appointment of at least two officials who made a handsome living working for the PGA Tour, only to give up on retirement and align with the disrupters now seeking to tear the game in two.

It clearly does not sit well with McIlroy, chairman of the player advisory council in America.

Greg Norman’s involvement in Saudi-backed golf series has only ‘hardened’ McIlroy’s resolve

His determination to hold on to his principles, whatever the cost, was also apparent when asked about his carbon footprint. The man from Radio 5 Live questioned a number of players competing here at the DP World Tour Championship this week about the harmful effects of golf on the environment, and most of them looked non-plussed. We are golfers and we have to fly to do our jobs, mate. What do you expect us to do?

Not McIlroy. He recalled a private flight he took home from China, where he was the only passenger on the plane. Feeling guilty, he instructed his management team to find out what he could do to lower his carbon footprint. Following his press conference, he revealed that it involves paying an excess premium of £150,000 this year to offset the damage.

‘It’s worth it to be carbon neutral by the end of the year,’ he said, with an evident touch of pride.

The Northern Irishman looks a world away from the tortured soul at the Ryder Cup

It says everything about the responsibility that McIlroy, still arguably the sport’s most bankable star, feels to the game that he has turned up this week. It was not on his schedule two months ago, and he cannot win the Race to Dubai. He is here because it is the right thing to do to support his home circuit following the big announcement of a World Tour of their own next year.

It would surprise no one, mind, if he ended up flying home with the £2.5million first prize on offer for winning the final event of the season. After coming up trumps in Las Vegas in his last tournament, he looks a player at peace again after parting company with coach Pete Cowen, and a world away from the tortured soul at the Ryder Cup.

‘I’m going to work it out for myself from now on, using my first coach Michael Bannon and a man who knows my swing better than I do, as a sounding board,’ he said.

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