By Fatiha Betscher, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai
“I think Greg needs to go!“
The words of World No.1 Rory McIlroy who has issued the bluntest of blunt ultimatums in the war of words that continues to discolour men’s professional golf
The stalemate in the professional game seems to have no end, even with it being rumoured that the combative LIV CEO Greg Norman might be replaced; although LIV Golf has denied this.
However, there’s no hiding McIlroy’s feelings as he delivered his point blank message to Norman ahead of this week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, where the current World No. 1 is hoping to finish DP World Tour No. 1 for a third occasion at the Jumeirah Estate.
McIlroy was asked if he could see a possible meeting of the parties in conflict and what would need to happen before PGA Tour Commissioner and Norman sit down to discuss their grievances.
“So I think there’s a few things that need to happen. 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, especially — yeah, you’re limited in what you can do,” said McIlroy
“And then I think from whatever happens with those two things, there’s a few things that I would like to see on the LIV side that need to happen. 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 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.
“And if those two things happen, then things can happen. But right now, it’s a stalemate because there can’t be any other way. Hopefully something can happen, who knows.
“But right now, I think the separate entities, the PGA TOUR, European Tour and LIV are all going to be. One is a very different product to the other, and they are just going to keep going whether something happens and whether that’s in the hands of a court or a judge or something else happens along the way, no one really knows. But right now it seems like it’s a bit of a stalemate.”
It’s not wrong to say that McIlroy has seemingly single-handedly taken the war of words to LIV Golf with Jay Monahan refraining to speak on the matter with McIlroy, the Chairman of the Players Committee, now the PGA Tour’s spokesperson.
What McIlroy has learnt from the many books he continues to read on consciousness and self-awareness may be helping. Who knows, but he was asked if there will be a way of ending the various grievances for the benefit of the game in the global picture.
“Yeah, I think in time that can happen,” he said to my own question. “It’s obviously been a very contentious year in golf. And I’ve said this: The best thing in golf is to have all the best players playing together, and what’s happening right now, that’s not happening.
“So I fear for the game when that’s going on. That’s why, again, with everything — it’s contentious because there’s lawsuits going on and people suing people; it’s very, very messy.
“So again, if all that stuff can be sorted out one way or the other, then you can get to the stage where there’s forgiveness and people can have dialogue and come to some sort of common ground or compromise. But while all this is happening, it’s very hard to do that.”
Lost in McIlroy’s presser was the reason why we’re here this week and that is to crown a new DP World Tour No. 1. If it is McIlroy it will mean he will hold both the DP World Tour No. 1 title and also the PGA Tour No. 1 honours, in what would be only the second time someone on both tours has accomplished this feat (after Henrik Stenson in 2013).
“Yeah, really excited. As you said, I’ve had some success around here and I’ve had some great memories in Dubai in general. I’ve won four times across this tournament and the Desert Classic,” added McIlroy.
“It’s a nice feeling to come back here and have a chance to win the season title. It’s been a few years but sort of with my consistent play this year and obviously in the majors and some of the bigger events, I find myself in a nice position. So yeah, nice to come in with not just one but two things at stake. I’m excited to get going.”