Rory McIlroy: LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman doing Saudi PIF “disservice”

Rory McIlroy still wants to see a deal between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) go through.

But he holds no remorse for LIV Golf’s CEO, Greg Norman.

“They’re a sovereign wealth fund. They want to park money for decades and not worry about it,” McIlroy said of the PIF.

“They want to invest in smart and secure businesses, and the PGA Tour is definitely one of those, especially if they’re looking to invest in sport in some way… I have spent time with [PIF Governor] Yasir [al-Rumayyan]. I think the people who have represented him in LIV have done him a disservice, so Norman and those guys.”

Norman has championed LIV Golf’s cause for more than two years now, celebrating its format, players, and how the Saudi-backed circuit continues to ‘change the game.’

The two-time major champion is also proud of the fact that LIV Golf hosts events all over the world—a dream of his during his heyday in the 1990s that have since become a reality.

Greg Norman, LIV Golf, Hong Kong

Greg Norman during LIV Golf – Invitational Hong Kong.
Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Ironically, McIlroy also envisions a global tour. The Northern Irishman wants to see a league of the world’s top 75-80 players compete across multiple continents around 15 times per year.

But even though the PIF funds LIV Golf, McIlroy views these two differently.

“I see the two entities, and I actually think there’s a really big disconnect between PIF and LIV,” McIlroy said.

“I think you got PIF over here, and LIV are sort of over here doing their own thing. So the closer that we can get to [al-Rumayyan], PIF and hopefully finalize that investment, I think that will be a really good thing.”

Al-Rumayyan will meet with the PGA Tour Policy Board in Ponta Vedra Beach, Florida, on Monday, the day after The Players Championship in the same locale.

McIlroy was asked about that meeting, too, and he is pleased to see progress.

“I think it should have happened months ago, so I am glad it’s happening,” McIlroy added.

Rory McIlroy, PGA Tour, The Players Championship

Rory McIlroy speaks to his caddy, Harry Diamond, during the final round of the 2024 Players Championship.
Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

“Hopefully that progresses conversations and gets us closer to a solution.”

One of the points of contention among the LIV Golf-PGA Tour divide is team golf, a massive element of the Saudi-backed circuit.

Thirteen teams of four players currently exist, and its team model is one reason why the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) have not awarded LIV events with points.

“They’re big on team golf, and they want to see it survive in some way in the calendar,” McIlroy added.

“I don’t think it has to necessarily look like LIV. I think, in my mind, you should leave the individual golf, and then you play your team golf on the sort of periphery of that.”

But as negotiations between players and brass begin, McIlroy added one crucial element that the golfing world will need.

“It’s going to require patience,” the four-time major champion declared.

“People have contracts at LIV up until 2028, 2029. I don’t know if they’re going to see that all the way out, but I see LIV playing in its current form for the next couple of years while everything gets figured out. I don’t think this is an overnight solution, but if we can get the investment in, we can start working towards a compromise where we’re not going to make everyone happy, but at least make everyone understand why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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