Rory McIlroy decided to become "a pain in the a**e" for Greg Norman after the LIV Golf chief executive accused him of having been "brainwashed" by the PGA Tour.

The Northern Irishman has been a fierce critic of the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed circuit, and was recently joined by Tiger Woods in calling for Norman to leave his role.

McIlroy said last month that Norman must "exit stage left" and that the bitter civil war engulfing the sport would not end "unless there's an adult in the room".

Norman recently opted to continue the duo's war of words when speaking to Today's Golfer, saying he paid "zero attention" to the three-time FedEx Cup champion's opinion.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, McIlroy recalled a positive exchange he had with Norman after watching a documentary focused on the Australian's collapse at the 1986 Masters, where Jack Nicklaus edged him out for a one-shot victory.

"It was a bit of an olive branch," McIlroy said. "He came back to me straight away, [saying] 'I really think golf can be a force for good around the world... I know our opinions are not aligned but I'm just trying to create more opportunities for every golfer around the world.'

"Fine. Really nice. Then, a couple of weeks later, he does an interview with The Washington Post and says I've been brainwashed by the PGA Tour.

"We've had this really nice back-and-forth and he says that about me.

"I thought: 'You know what? I'm going to make it my business now to be as much of a pain in his a**e as possible'."

Home favourite Thriston Lawrence fought back to win the South African Open Championship despite surrendering a five-shot lead with two holes remaining in Sunday's final round.

Lawrence began Sunday with a two-shot advantage at 18-under-par, with Clement Sordet hot on his heels after carding consecutive rounds of 66.

The South African looked to be cruising after moving five shots clear of the Frenchman on the 10th hole, but had to wait until the penultimate hole to secure the win after a series of slip-ups.

Sordet drew level with his rival before dropping a shot by missing a short putt on the 17th, allowing Lawrence to seal the title despite missing the green off the tee in a tense finish.

Lawrence's relief was clear when he spoke after the win, saying: "It's not over until the fat lady sings and I got a little conservative over the closing stretch and it cost me. I managed to hang in there. 

"It's what you strive for and play for every day. Being a kid you dream of this moment. I'm just so pleased, words can't describe it."

The victory represents Lawrence's third on the European Tour, with the 26-year-old having followed up 2021's Joburg Open win by claiming the Omega European Masters title in August.

Jens Fahrbring finished one shot behind Sordet in third, with Matti Schmid three shots further back in fourth. 

Adrian Meronk overhauled Adam Scott to win his second DP World Tour title in five months with victory at the Australian Open.

Meronk trailed Scott by a shot going into the final round at Victoria Golf Course.

But the Pole, who won the Irish Open in July, was superb for the third successive round in Melbourne, his four-under 66 propelling him to triumph.

He made the turn three under for the round and on the back nine bogeys at 13 and 17 were sandwiched by a birdie at 15.

Meronk finished it in style with a stunning eagle putt from the edge of the green that saw him finish 14 under for the tournament.

Scott, who could only manage a level-par 72, was five shots back at nine under.

"To finish like that on the 18th hole, it's unreal," said Meronk. 

"[I] kept doing what I done last two days and just worked pretty well so I'm just super proud of me, proud of my team."

Dan Bradbury sealed a first DP World Tour victory in just his third professional start as he won the Joburg Open on Sunday.

The 23-year-old Englishman only recently joined the paid ranks and was participating after a sponsor's invitation, but he won by three shots on 21 under par to not only secure the trophy, but also a place at the Open Championship next year.

Bradbury went into the final round with a one-stroke lead but never showed any sign of letting up on Sunday at Houghton Golf Club, shooting a round of 67 with five birdies and just one bogey, coming on the final hole.

Finland's Sami Valimaki claimed second place on 18 under, one shot ahead of South Africans Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Daniel van Tonder, who tied for third.

Bradbury said after his win: "It won't sink in for a few days, I don't think. It's just a lot of pressure taken off your back, that's nice, but it hasn't sunk in yet and I don't think it will for a while."

He felt pressure from Valimaki on the back nine yet kept his focus, securing a two-year tour exemption as well as his Open ticket.

"But it was kind of the same thing all week, just keep playing my own game and I knew I was playing good enough," Bradbury said. "It turned out that way in the end."

By taking the top three spots, Bradbury, Valimaki and Bezuidenhout all qualified for the 151st Open at Royal Liverpool in July 2023, with Bezuidenhout claiming the final place ahead of Van Tonder thanks to his higher position in the world rankings.

Cameron Smith thought a third Australian PGA Championship would be beyond him after posting a final round of 68 to seal victory at the Royal Queensland Golf Club.

The home favourite, a two-time winner before in 2017 and 2018, finished 14 under par, with a three-shot lead over fellow Australian Jason Scrivener and Japan's Ryo Hisatsune.

Amid a closing day interrupted by lightning strikes across the course, Smith recovered from a slow start to post three birdies over the final seven holes and claim the trophy.

Though seldom off the pace across the weekend, the defending Open Championship winner says he was not sure if he would be in the conversation for victory before he teed off.

"I really didn't think I had it in me at the start of the week," he stated. "I was a bit scratchy [but] the game has got better and better as the week went on, other than the front nine today."

On the weather, he added: "You are in the mojo a little and for it to be stopped not once but twice was a little frustrating. But I just held on and played really solid those last eight holes."

Hisatsune was best in show on the final day with an impressive 65, a feat matched only by Australian Geoff Ogilvy and Englishman John Parry.

The latter's performance was enough to seal a joint-fourth-place finish overall, tied with Min Woo Lee on nine under par.

 

Rory McIlroy declared he is "as complete a golfer as I've ever been" after finishing top of the season-ending DP World Tour rankings for the fourth time.

Jon Rahm secured his third DP World Tour Championship on Sunday, but a fourth-placed finish for McIlory gave the 33-year-old reason to celebrate at Dubai's Jumeirah Golf Estates.

McIlroy added the Harry Vardon Trophy, awarded to the DP World Tour's number one, to his FedExCup victory in 2022.

The Northern Irishman has enjoyed an impressive season, recording top-10 finishes at all four majors, while he did not drop below 12th place at any of his 10 DP World Tour events this term.

That consistency led McIlroy to suggest his golf is in the best place it has been in recent memory.

"I think one of the things I'm really proud of over the last few years is I don't feel I have to rely on one aspect of my game," McIlroy, a four-time major winner, told Sky Sports. "I think if my driving isn't there, then my putter bails me out.

"If my putter isn't there, my iron play bails me out. I feel like when you get to this level it's like, okay, how can you make those incremental improvements to get better?

"I think my goal has been to just become a more complete golfer and I feel like I'm on the journey to doing that.

"I'm as complete a golfer as I feel like I've ever been, and hopefully I can continue on that path."

Meanwhile, McIlroy's Ryder Cup team-mate Rahm reflected on a positive year of his own after collecting his third triumph of the season after winning at the Open de Espana and the Mexico Open.

"Hopefully people can stop telling me that it was a bad year," Rahm said.

"Three wins worldwide and three wins in three different continents. Yes, it wasn't a major championship but it's still a really, really good season."

An excellent final round of 67 saw Jon Rahm seal the third DP World Tour Championship of his career on Sunday.

The Spaniard finished on 20 under par, winning by two shots ahead of Tyrell Hatton and Alex Noren in Dubai and four ahead of Rory McIlroy, who had something to celebrate of his own with his fourth-place finish.

As a result, McIlroy ends the year as DP World Tour number one for a fourth time, winning the Harry Vardon Trophy.

Rahm looked to be in the mood to secure victory after recording birdies on each of the first three holes, only to bogey the fourth, leaving Noren breathing down his neck as the Swede also started brightly to go within one of the lead.

Things turned on the seventh hole though as Noren dropped a shot, before Rahm gained one to extend his advantage to three.

Hatton went on to set the clubhouse lead at 18 under, but Rahm did not drop another shot as he tidied up his round with further birdies at the 13th and 15th before confirming his win with a simple par on the 18th.

After his victory, Rahm said it was a "very" special one, adding: "Because of coronavirus I never got the chance to defend my 2019 title, even though I decided not to come last year I came in with the mentality [this year] that nobody beat me in the last two years, so they're gonna have to beat me again.

"I like this course and this course likes me, so I hope this is the third of many more."

McIlroy was equally pleased with his own award, with the world number one becoming just the second player in history to win the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup and the DP World Tour order of merit in the same season.

After his final round of 68, McIlroy said: "It means a lot, it's been seven years since I've last done it [finished top of European Tour rankings] and obviously this is my fourth one.

"I was a model of consistency through the year, a lot of top finishes, I think my worst finish was 12th in Abu Dhabi, so just a really consistent season, kept putting in good performances; it would have been nice to get one win in there at the end of the year here but Jon played an incredible tournament and fully deserved it."

Elsewhere, English pair Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick finished joint-fifth on 13 under, while Dane Rasmus Hoejgaard shot 67 to move up to joint-seventh with Pole Adrian Meronk on 11 under.

Jon Rahm described Rory McIlroy taking a stand against the LIV Golf Invitational Series while still performing at the highest level as "remarkable" and discussed how joining the breakaway circuit may impact Sergio Garcia's legacy.

McIlroy claimed his third FedEx Cup in August and is hoping to cap a fine year by winning the DP World Tour Championship this week, but his off-course actions have been equally noteworthy.

The world number one has been a vocal critic of the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed LIV circuit, and called for the series' divisive chief executive Greg Norman to resign this week.

Speaking ahead of the tournament in Dubai, world number five Rahm hailed McIlroy's efforts to defend the PGA Tour this year. 

"It's great to see somebody with his platform take a stand as he did, whether you agree with it or not, he's taken a stand on what he believes in and that's it - I think it's great," Rahm said.

"He's had a lot of input. He's been on the board of the PGA Tour and tried to make a change.

"To be honest, with how long those meetings are and how much as players we talk to each other, to play as good as he has is pretty remarkable.

"In this profession, we are all basically CEOs of our own little golf company, and now he has invested in so much more. Again, the role he's had in both [on and off the course] is quite incredible."

Rahm's compatriot Garcia became one of the most high-profile players to resign his PGA Tour membership while switching to LIV Golf this year.

The 2021 U.S. Open champion hopes the legacy of his fellow Spaniard is not tarnished by that decision.

"I hope not, it's very unprecedented, what we've been dealing with in the game of golf and it hasn't even been that long," Rahm added.

"It could have somewhat of an impact. I have a hard time believing a lot of those [LIV] players are going to have a positive impact on their legacy right now.

"We don't know what's going to happen, but if it does [have an impact on Garcia's legacy], I hope it's not a big one, let's say it that way.

"He's done a lot for the game of golf, so it would be sad to see that change.

"There's certainly going to be a before and after at some point, and there's definitely some division going on.

"It still shouldn't change what he's done in the game; what he's done in the Ryder Cup, European Tour, PGA Tour, shouldn't be affected by where he decides to play golf, at least in my mind."

Meanwhile, LIV Golf has continued to push for the ability to award world rankings points, and while Rahm is not against that idea, he says the tour must meet the stated requirements.

"We need to stop giving LIV the publicity. They are not asking for it. That's the first thing I'm going to say," Rahm said.

"A lot of people are against them having World Ranking points. I'm not necessarily against it, but there should be adjustments. 

"If your requirement to have World Ranking points is 72 holes and a cut, maybe you don't award them 100 per cent of the points, since they are not fulfilling all the requirements. 

"I also believe it's probably a couple-year process, so they need to respect that as every other tour has. 

"They do have some incredible players. To say that Dustin [Johnson] wasn't one of the best players this year would be a mistake. So, I think they could be awarded. I don't know if they necessarily deserve 100 per cent."

Rory McIlroy has called for Greg Norman to leave his role as chief executive of the LIV Golf Invitational Series to end the "stalemate" engulfing the sport.

World number one McIlroy has been one of the most prominent critics of the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed circuit, which is locked in legal cases against both the PGA and DP World Tours.

McIlroy called for LIV to do more to end the bitter feud between the circuits in September, declaring: "the ball is in their court".

However, Norman said he had "no interest" in sitting down for talks with the PGA that same month and McIlroy believes his presence is harming the sport.

"Greg needs to go. He needs to exit stage left," McIlroy said ahead of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

"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.

"There are obviously two lawsuits going on at the minute. There's the PGA Tour versus LIV and there's obviously this one that's coming up with the DP World Tour in February.

"Nothing can happen if those two things are going on. Right now, it is a bit of a stalemate."

The need to compete with LIV Golf has prompted the PGA Tour to increase prize funds for next year, leading Norman to suggest McIlroy and Tiger Woods – another critic of LIV Golf – should be "thankful" for what the breakaway circuit has brought to the game.

However, McIlroy believes everyone in golf should instead direct their gratitude towards 15-time major champion Woods.

"I've said this a million times, Tiger is the reason that we are playing for as much as we are playing for," McIlroy added. "Tiger is the reason that the stature of our game is where it is.

"The generation of Tiger and the generation coming after Tiger have all benefited from him and his achievements and what he's done for the game of golf.

"I don't think Tiger should be thankful to anyone for anything. I think everyone else in the game should be thankful."

Tommy Fleetwood edged out Ryan Fox in a dramatic finish to defend his Nedbank Golf Challenge crown and end a three-year winless run on the DP World Tour.

Fleetwood and Fox went into the final round three shots behind Rasmus Hojgaard and Thomas Detry at Gary Player Country Club in Sun City, where play was suspended on Sunday due to thunderstorms.

The leaders had only managed five holes before the delays, though Fleetwood raced into the ascendancy after the restart as he carded a five-under 66, including an eagle and four birdies to triumph.

"It has been a great week," Fleetwood said. "I already had so many amazing memories with this place and felt like I had such a great connection to it, so this [win] just added to that."

Victory for Fleetwood was never a certainty until the 18th hole, though, as a wayward tee shot saw Fox bogey the last hole to finish on 10-under, one shot behind the Englishman.

An erroneous drive meant Fox relinquished the chance to not only win the event but also to jump above Rory McIlroy at the top of the season-long DP World Tour rankings.

"I played great and didn't miss a shot until the 18th," Fox said. "I certainly would've like to have played the 18th a little bit better and made Tommy work a little bit harder, but it's an incredibly tough golf course to play down the stretch.

"All of us were there or thereabouts with three holes to play, but Tommy was the one who held it together. Fair play to him. If you had given me second at the start of the week, I definitely would've taken it."

Shubhankar Sharma finished on nine-under to claim third, with Richie Ramsay a further shot behind in fourth as Fleetwood secured his sixth DP World Tour title.

It was also his first triumph since winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge in 2019, with the past two editions cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, as Fleetwood climbed to fourth in the rankings ahead of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

Henrik Stenson has emphatically denied suggestions he accepted the Ryder Cup captaincy to gain negotiating power for a more lucrative offer with the LIV Golf International Series.

The 46-year-old was stripped of Team Europe captaincy duties for next September's Ryder Cup after joining the Saudi-backed breakaway league in July.

Stenson won his first LIV Golf event in Bedminster at the start of August, aiming a dig at his dismissal as he stated "I guess we can agree I played like a captain".

As the Swede prepares for the last LIV Golf event of the season in Miami, Stenson refuted reports he had used his Ryder Cup offer to leverage a more financially rewarding offer with his new employers.

"I can give you a 100 per cent honest answer that it was never the case," he told Sportsmail. "I would be willing to take a lie-detector test on that."

Numerous former Ryder Cup captains, including Padraig Harrington and Mark James, concluded Stenson could have no complaints over his captaincy removal, though he insists he does not regret his decision.

"I am happy. I thought that through in more than one afternoon. I am happy with where I am at," he added. "I managed to get a win straight out of the box and I am looking forward to next year.

"I am enjoying being with the guys on this tour. We are playing together, travelling together and it has a different vibe to regular life on tour that I did for many years. That was great. But I am enjoying this.

"I haven't played anything but LIV events since the summer, so I mean going forward I am getting the off-season I have wanted for 16 or 17 years.

"I am looking forward to that – getting strong and healthy in the gym and getting ready for the new season in February. I am happy."

Stenson will play in his final event of the season at Trump National Doral, starting on Friday.

Yannik Paul won his first title on the DP World Tour in dramatic circumstances on Sunday, claiming a "dream" victory on the final hole at the Mallorca Golf Open.

Paul took a share of the lead into the final round at Son Muntaner Golf Club, but fell behind Marcus Armitage after going two-over-par through the first 15 holes on Sunday.

However, Armitage slipped up over the next two holes to hand Paul a shot at his first title, with Paul Waring and Nicolai von Dellingshausen watching from the clubhouse after both finished 14-under.

Germany's Paul handled the pressure impressively, though, converting a 15-foot birdie attempt on the 18th to avoid a play-off with the duo and seal a one-shot win.

Speaking to Sky Sports after his victory, world number 190 Paul said: "It was tough today. My ball-striking was unbelievable all week. 

"I hit it really close the first couple of holes and couldn't make any putts so that was really hard to stay in the moment.

"But luckily none of the other guys really made a lot of putts. I saw after nine holes I was in the lead, and I thought I hit a great shot on 15 but it went over the green.

"Unfortunately Marcus hit a couple of bad shots and then I couldn't have dreamed of a better ending. I'm over the moon.

"I had a lot of good chances the last couple of days that didn't go in and to finish like this is obviously a dream come true."

England's Dale Whitnell finished a shot back from Waring and Von Dellingshausen, with Ryan Fox – who began the day level with Paul – joining him in finishing 13-under.  

Ryan Fox held his nerve to claim his second DP World Tour win of the year after posting a four-under final round to take the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship by a single stroke.

The New Zealander clawed back a four-shot deficit to pick up his third tour title on the Old Course at St Andrews, edging out Callum Shinkwin and Alex Noren for top spot with a total of 15 under par.

Fox took advantage of a final-day collapse from overnight leader Richard Mansell, who blew his sizeable advantage with a closing 76 to fall back into a tie for seventh. 

Despite three bogeys, the 35-year-old kept his composure with seven birdie finishes across the day, enough to see off challenges from Englishman Shinkwin and Sweden's Noren in the closing stages.

The trio just beat out Rory McIlroy, with the FedEx Cup Champion posting the second-best round of the day on six under to come home in fourth, on the course where he narrowly lost the Open Championship earlier this year.

The Northern Irishman carded 75 on Friday to effectively take him out of the running, though his impressive rally was bettered only by South African George Coetzee, who managed an impressive seven-under 65.

Victory caps a bumper year for Fox, who reached a highest world ranking of 46 in July and romped to a five-stroke victory at the Ras Al Khaimah Classic back in February.

His only other tour title came in 2019, when he claimed the Perth International.

Richard Mansell heads into the final round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship armed with a four-shot lead and a glorious chance to earn a first DP World Tour win.

Englishman Mansell was one of just three players to go under 70 when wild weather made for troublesome golfing conditions on Friday, and the 27-year-old followed that impressive 68 with 67 on Saturday to reach 15 under par.

At a tournament where the first three rounds have been split daily between St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, it is Mansell who will start on Sunday as the frontrunner when all competitors head to the Old Course for the closing 18 holes.

Three players sit four shots off the pace, with Sweden's Alex Noren losing ground to Mansell after going round in 69 at St Andrews. He was joined on 11 under by two players who competed at Kingsbarns on Saturday: England's Daniel Gavins (67) and New Zealand's Ryan Fox (65).

Mansell, who played Carnoustie on Saturday, has yet to win on the tour and entered this week on the back of two missed cuts, but he has had top-four finishes this season at the European Open, World Invitational and European Masters.

The world number 218 is having the best year of his career, earning almost €550,000 (£480,000) already, and he can more than double that on Sunday, with $816,000 (£730,000) on offer to the champion.

The low round of Saturday came from Belgium's Thomas Pieters, whose bogey-free 64 repaired some of Friday's damage, when he followed his opening 65 with a ruinous 84.

Rory McIlroy had a 75 on Friday but rebounded with 66 at St Andrews on Saturday to reach seven under, likely too far back to mount a challenge on the final day.

Richard Mansell overcame tricky conditions to shoot a four-under-par 68 to ensure he goes into the weekend at the top of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship leaderboard.

Mansell carded the lowest score of the round to get to ten under par, helped by four birdies on the front nine as he battled through the wet and windy weather.

The Englishman now holds a two-shot lead over Sweden's Alex Noren in second, while Antoine Rozner and Niklas Norgaard Moller sit three shots behind the leader on seven under par.

Romain Langasque, who equalled the best-ever round at the Old Course at St Andrews with his opening round of 11-under-par on Thursday, endured a nightmare second day as he shot an eight-over-par 80 to fall to 19th.

Rory McIlroy was another to struggle with the conditions, with the world number two going round in 75 at Kingsbarns to drop to joint-43rd.

Scot Robert MacIntyre remains in contention after carding a second round of 70, while English pair Callum Shinkwin and Daniel Gavins are also in striking distance on five under par.

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