Rory McIlroy hit with LIV Golf taunts from Greg Norman ahead of PGA Championship

Rory McIlroy becomes world no.1 golfer for ninth time

Greg Norman has claimed that rival Rory McIlroy is beginning to soften his stance against his controversial LIV Golf tour, despite the pair repeatedly engaging in a war of words since the Saudi Arabia-backed series was launched. The running feud between PGA Tour star McIlroy and LIV Golf’s CEO Norman has been a constant source of news as the breakaway tour threatened to disrupt the status quo in professional golf for good.

Neither Australian legend Norman nor four-time Major winner McIlroy have held back when it has come to sharing their views on the huge changes currently impacting the sport, but as the LIV tour roles into Tulsa this weekend, the Great White Shark insists that his opposite is starting to ‘see the light’.

Former world number one Norman told the BBC: “He [McIlroy] is starting to see that this is not an exhibition match or a clinic like he said in the past – this is real. These guys are competitors. They want to win and Rory’s no different so I’m glad Rory’s starting to maybe see the light a little bit.

“I’m glad Rory’s recognised that LIV has truly identified how antiquated the PGA Tour was. I’m glad Rory’s recognising that LIV has been a leader in trying to get the PGA Tour to follow us. Why have we done that? Because of the players.”

Northern Irishman McIlroy’s disapproval of the LIV Golf inception was clear from the outset. When the tour was initially proposed, he insisted it was already ‘dead in the water’.

The opposite has proven to be the case however, with a large group of household names ditching the PGA Tour to join Norman’s breakaway operation, including the likes of Brooks Koepka, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mikelson.

As tensions grew between the two tours, McIlroy even called for Norman to quit his leading position with the LIV Tour. He said: “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 say you’ve got this thing off the ground but no one’s going to talk unless there’s an adult in the room that can actually try to mend fences.”

But after finding himself effectively installed as a major mouthpiece for the defence of the PGA Tour, McIlroy has admitted that 12 months of constant disputes with Norman and LIV Golf have had an effect on him.

Speaking to Golf Digest, he said: “It’s not the golf side of things. If you had nothing else going on in your life, you could play every week there is to play and be totally fine. But it’s just all the other stuff that was going on around the game of golf and being right in the middle of it. It sort of took its toll and, yeah, everything just sort of caught up with me this last month or so.”

Norman’s claim that McIlroy has gone soft on LIV Golf could be attributed to comments the Ryder Cup star made back in March, when he accepted that some good had come out of the dispute between the two tours. Speaking at the PGA Players Championship in Florida, he said: “I’m not going to sit here and lie. I think the emergence of LIV or the emergence of a competitor to the PGA Tour has benefited everyone that plays elite professional golf.”

McIlroy will be once again amongst the favourites when the second major of the season, the PGA Championship, gets underway at Oak Hill Country Club on May 18. The former world number one will be in search of his first Major victory in nine years after missing the cut at the Masters in Augusta last month.

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