Greg Norman has had precious few supporters over his involvement in the LIV Golf saga.
However, he has at least one in the form of Rory McIlroy.
The four-time major winner’s sympathy for Norman is somewhat unlikely given his status as one of the rebel tour’s most ardent opponents; but McIlroy claimed Norman is in a “no-win situation” as chief executive of the Saudi-backed rebel circuit.
“I think Greg is in a very tough position because he’s taken a role that is being the leader of something that is very divisive,” the former world No.1 said ahead of this week’s PGA Championship.
“Greg can sit with the media for five hours and give four hours and 50 minutes of very good answers, and the ten minutes where he drops his guard is what’s going to be picked up on.
“He’s in a no-win situation. He’s made that decision himself and he has to deal with the questions that are being thrown at him. It’s certainly not a position I’d like to be in.”
McIlroy was asked several questions about the controversial breakaway league in his pre-tournament press conference, and admitted he is desperate for a resolution to be found – so he can stop talking about it.
“Honestly, I’m rooting for it all to be over. I’m so sick of talking about it,” the 33-year-old said.
“I’ve made my decision and I know where I want to play. I’m not standing in anyone’s way and I’m not saying they shouldn’t go over there and play. If that’s what they feel is right for them, then 100% they should go and do that.
“I think the sooner it all happens and the sooner everything shakes out, we can all go back to not talking about it and doing what we want to do.”
Earlier this year McIlroy declared the LIV Series “dead in the water”, but it has undergone something of a resurgence.
The league’s first event is scheduled to take place in London next month and the two-time PGA winner admitted he may have spoken too soon.
“I might have been a little bit presumptuous at that point,” McIlroy said.
“It seems like it’s still going, and Greg and everyone behind it are very determined.
“We are just going to have to see how it plays out. Guys are going to make decisions and it’s going to shape the future of golf one way or another, so we are going to have to see how it all shakes out.”
Rory McIlroy being sympathetic to Greg Norman is quite far down the list of “things you expect to happen in PGA week”
— Jamie Hall (@jamiehall03) May 17, 2022
One man who won’t be at Southern Hills this week is defending PGA champion Phil Mickelson, who is taking a self-imposed break from the game over his own controversial involvement in the LIV scheme.
Despite his troubles, McIlroy claimed it is “sad” the oldest major winner in history will not be in the field – and believes achievement merits celebration.
“It’s unfortunate and sad,” he told reporters.
“This should be a celebration. He won a major championship at 50 years old. It was possibly his last big, big moment in the game of golf and I think he should be here this week celebrating what a monumental achievement he achieved last year.”