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'."

Greg Norman says he pays "zero attention" to Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy after they called for him to be ousted as LIV Golf CEO and commissioner.

Woods this week echoed McIlroy's sentiments that Norman "has to go" in order for the PGA Tour and breakaway series LIV Golf to hold constructive talks, with the two organisations having filed lawsuits against each other.

The legendary American stated: "There is an opportunity out there if both organisations put a stay on their litigation. That's the problem.

"There is no willingness to negotiate if you have litigation against you. I think Greg has to go first of all. It has to start with leadership on their side, understanding that what is happening right now is not the best future for the whole game of golf.

"You need to have the two bodies come together and if one side has so much animosity, trying to destroy our tour, then how do you work with that?"

World number one McIlroy said last month: "I think he [Norman] 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."

Yet Australian Norman is adamant he will be going nowhere.

"I pay zero attention to McIlroy and Woods, right?" he told Today's Golfer. "They have their agenda for whatever reason. They're saying whatever they want to say.

"It has no bearing or effect on me. I'm going to be with LIV for a long, long period of time."

Norman says he can heal the rifts and is doing a good job.

He said: "Of course it can happen under my leadership. I mean, Tiger might be a messenger, right? Who knows. All I know is we are going to keep doing what we're doing with LIV, and we are just going to keep moving forward."

Norman added: "No matter where I go in the world, nobody - not one person - has said what I'm doing is stupid or wrong."

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."

Ian Poutler has refuted Rory McIlroy's claim that players joining the LIV Golf Invitational Series engaged in a "betrayal" of their former Ryder Cup team-mates.

Five players who featured in Europe's comprehensive defeat at last year's Ryder Cup have since joined the controversial breakaway circuit, including Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia.

Meanwhile, Henrik Stenson was stripped of Team Europe's captaincy for next year's competition – set to take place at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome – following his own decision to join LIV Golf.

It remains uncertain whether players from the LIV circuit will be able to feature at the 2023 Ryder Cup, and McIlroy has repeatedly insisted they should not. 

Speaking to the Guardian on Tuesday, McIlroy went a step further, saying: "I think it is the first time in my life that I have felt betrayal, in a way. It's an unfamiliar feeling to me. You build bonds with these people through Ryder Cups and other things."

Poulter responded to that statement at a press conference ahead of LIV's next event in Miami, saying: "A betrayal? I mean, we can still qualify for the team, as far as I'm aware, unless we've been told we can't qualify.

"I'm still ready to play as much as I possibly can and try and make that team.

"My commitment to the Ryder Cup, I think goes before me. I don't think that should ever come into question. 

"I've always wanted to play Ryder Cups and play with as much passion as anyone else that I've ever seen play a Ryder Cup, I don't know where those comments really come from, to be honest."

Phil Mickelson – one of the first household names to join LIV Golf – spoke alongside Poulter on Wednesday but refused to engage with McIlroy's claim the circuit's feud with the PGA Tour was "out of control". 

"I think a lot of Rory, I really have the utmost respect for him, [for] what he's done in the game and how he's played this year," Mickelson said. 

"I have a tonne of respect for him. As players, we have three months off after this event to talk about things like that and so forth."

The PGA Tour has filed a federal civil lawsuit against LIV Golf's financial backers, Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund and governor Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, per filings in Manhattan.

The complaint, filed under seal in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, is the latest move in the bitter war between golf's leading organisation and its breakaway opponent.

It follows the PGA Tour filing a counter-suit against LIV Golf last month, levelling accusations of interference in player contracts.

More than 30 players have been suspended from competing on the tour since their defection, while US players have been excluded from Ryder Cup consideration.

A number of players previously filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, though several – including six-time major champion Phil Mickelson – have been asked to be removed from that action.

Al-Rumayyan is also the chairman of Premier League outfit Newcastle United and heads up Saudi-owned petroleum company Saudi Aramco.

Rory McIlroy has hit back at Phil Mickelson by claiming the American's verdict that the PGA Tour is "trending downwards" is illogical.

Northern Irishman McIlroy has been one of the most prominent opponents of the LIV Golf breakaway tour, which made Mickelson an early flagship signing.

Mickelson said in Jeddah last week: "I firmly believe that I'm on the winning side of how things are going to evolve and shape in the coming years for professional golf.

"I see LIV Golf trending upwards, I see the PGA Tour trending downwards. And I love the side that I'm on."

McIlroy has the likes of Tiger Woods in his corner, staying true to the tour that has for many years provided their livelihood.

"I think the people that have decided to stay here and play these tournaments, they or we haven't done anything differently than what we've always done. We're sticking to the system that has traditionally been there," McIlroy said.

"The guys that have gone over to LIV are the ones that have made the disruption they're the ones you have put the golf world in flux right now.

"For them to be talking the way they are, it's bold and there's a ton of propaganda being used. But I certainly don't see the PGA Tour trending downwards.

"Ninety-five per cent of the talent is here. You've people like Tom Kim coming through and that's the future of our game.

"I don't agree with what Phil said last week. I understand why he said it, because of the position he is in, but I don't think anyone that takes a logical view of the game of golf can agree with what he said."

Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau are among the other high-profile players who turned their back on the PGA Tour

McIlroy, competing this week at the CJ Cup in South Carolina, has a chance to go back to the top of the world rankings, if he has a stellar week and Scottie Scheffler struggles.

With no points currently available at LIV events, it has made the route back to number one perhaps less arduous than it might have been for McIlroy.

McIlroy said: "If I get back to number one this week, it's like my ninth time getting back.

"It's like a heavyweight boxer losing a world title, and it's the journey of getting it back. That's the journey I've been on over the last 12 months."

Across his previous eight stints at number one, McIlroy has spent 106 weeks atop the rankings.

He ardently wants top spot again but says the fact of being number one would still have him wanting more.

"I got to number one in the world [for the first time] after I won the Honda Classic in 2012, and it'd been a goal of mine for maybe six months up until that point," McIlroy said. "I ended up getting there after the Honda, but I remember waking up the next morning and being like, 'Is this it?'.

"You work towards the goal for so long but don't feel any different after having achieved it, so it's a matter of having to reframe your goals and re-framing what success looks like.

"I think that's one of the great things about this game. No matter what you've achieved or what success you've had, you always want to do something else. You've got to maybe work harder to stay there."

Brooks Koepka edged out Peter Uihlein in a play-off to clinch the final individual prize of the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series on Sunday.

Two birdies on Koepka's front nine in Jeddah set him up well to push on for glory, but the American slipped up after the turn at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.

A birdie on the 10th was followed by three successive bogeys, and though Koepka recovered to birdie on the 15th and the last to finish at 12 under par, he had provided his rivals with an opportunity to catch up.

Overnight leader Uihlein was one of those to take advantage, with a clean back nine seeing the 33-year-old bounce back from carding two double bogeys earlier on in his round, with his final score of 70 enough to force a play-off with Smash GC team-mate Koepka.

While it was good news for Smash GC, who secured a six-shot win to boost their form ahead of the Team Championship in Miami later this month, there had to be a loser, and after three holes with no give, Uihlein found a bunker.

Having rescued himself from a similar situation on the previous play-off hole, this time Uihlein could only clip a shot into the water, handing four-time major winner Koepka the chance to putt for victory.

"The last two years – they haven't been fun," an emotional Koepka said.

"So it's been a long road, I'm super excited. My whole team, we got the band back together a couple of months ago, this is for them.

"I didn't know if my career was over, for a half-second. I wasn't sure when I was going to play. It's nice to come back and win."

Joaquin Niemann went round in 65 to finish one shot behind the leading pair, tied with Sergio Garcia.

Inaugural LIV Golf champion Dustin Johnson came in at 10 under, alongside Matthew Wolff, while Bernd Wiesberger joined Niemann in recording 65.

Peter Uihlein seized a one-stroke lead to carry into the final round of LIV Golf Jeddah after a seven-under-par 63 in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

The American leapfrogged compatriot Brooks Koepka at the top of the leaderboard after an eagle and birdie on his final two holes took him to 12 under.

 

The only blot on his copybook at the Royal Greens Golf Club was a double bogey at the par-four 13th.

Koepka, who led after the first day of competition on Friday, carded a three-under round of 67 to stay in touch.

Two shots further back are South Africa's Charl Schwartzel and Sergio Garcia, with the Spaniard posting a bogey-free 64.

The inaugural individual LIV Golf champion Dustin Johnson stood five shots off the lead after a round of 65.

It was a disappointing day for Henrik Stenson, meanwhile, with the Swede sitting in last place after going round in 75, five over and for the tournament.

Brooks Koepka holds a two-stroke lead of LIV Golf Jeddah after finishing the opening round eight under par in Saudi Arabia.

The four-time major champion made eight birdies in his round of 62 and did not go over par on any hole to head into the weekend ahead of second-placed Charl Schwartzel, while Patrick Reed is tied for third with Hideto Tanihara and Peter Uihlein at three shots off the lead.

The inaugural individual LIV Golf champion Dustin Johnson is T16 on two under par, alongside Open champion and world number two Cameron Smith.

Johnson, who has collected 121 points across the season, struck five birdies, but a double-bogey on the par-three eighth set him back.

Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood fared slightly better at three under, the latter not carding any bogies in his round.

LIV Golf Bangkok winner Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra struggled to back up his performance in Thailand and is T28 at one under par, seven shots back from Koepka. Bryson DeChambeau, meanwhile, only managed a par 70.

After withdrawing from LIV Golf Bangkok with injury, Branden Grace carded a one-over-par round on his return to action.

Phil Mickelson says he has on the "winning side" with LIV Golf and believes the PGA Tour is "trending downwards."

Mickelson defected from the PGA Tour to join the Saudi-backed breakaway series on a hugely lucrative contract in June.

Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau are among the other high-profile players who turned their back on the PGA Tour to sign up for LIV Golf.

As he prepares to tee off in Jeddah on Friday, six-time major winner Mickelson is in no doubt he made the right decision.

He said: "Golf is very lucky to have the PIF [Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia] invest in the game… being influxed with billions of dollars.

"Now the US and the UK are not favourable to this, but everywhere else in the world, LIV Golf is loved. It is very negatively viewed currently [in the US and UK], but that has been changing and evolving already and in a few years LIV will be not only accepted but appreciated, because of the involvement and the influx of capital and what it is doing."

He added: "I've spoken with people who have had dealings that have not been positive with the [PGA] Tour and have had nothing but positive experiences with LIV.

"For a long, long time, my 30 years on the PGA Tour, pretty much all the best players played on the PGA Tour. That will never be the case again.

"I think going forward you have to pick the side you think is going to be successful. And I firmly believe that I'm on the winning side of how things are going to evolve and shape in the coming years for professional golf.

"I see LIV Golf trending upwards, I see the PGA Tour trending downwards. And I love the side that I'm on."

Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra claimed the LIV Golf Bangkok title after carding a final-round 69 to win by three strokes on a weather-affected final day.

The 22-year-old took a five-shot lead into the final round and did enough to hold off late charges from the likes of Patrick Reed and Paul Casey, the latter of whom will be left to rue an opening round of 71 after shooting 65 on both the second and third days.

Nobody bettered Lopez-Chacarra's first and second rounds of 65 and 63 respectively, and he overcame two bogies on the front nine to finish three under on the final day and seal victory, maintaining his focus despite play being suspended for an hour and a half because of a storm in the area.

The Spaniard was a high-ranked amateur before joining the controversial Saudi-backed tour in June and now earns his first professional championship, as well as a $4million purse.

Richard Bland and Branden Grace formed part of a leading trio with Lopez-Chacarra on seven under after the opening round, but Grace withdrew with injury on Saturday while Bland could not follow up his first-day success, losing pace on the eventual winner to finish joint-third – alongside Casey and Sihwan Kim and a stroke behind second-placed Reed.

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka was joint-eighth at 13 under, while Bryson DeChambeau ended 14th at 10 under.

Other big names were way off the pace, with Phil Mickelson 10 shots behind Lopez-Chacarra and 2022 Open Championship winner Cameron Smith finishing a disappointing tournament tied for 41st at four under.

Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra will take a five-stroke lead into the final round at LIV Golf Bangkok after ending a brilliant second day in Thailand at 16 under par.

Lopez-Chacarra was one of a leading trio on seven under after the first round, but Richard Bland was unable to keep up with the Spaniard and Branden Grace withdrew after just three holes on Saturday due to an acute muscle strain.

Bland is one of four five shots off the lead with Sihwan Kim, Patrick Reed and Harold Varner III – while they may not be completely out of the running yet, the chasing pack need Lopez-Chacarra to lose momentum.

If his form from the first two rounds is anything to go by, there is little hope of such a collapse, with no one in the field bettering his respective scores of 65 and 63.

Saturday's 63 was nine under par as the 22-year-old – who was a high-ranked amateur before joining LIV Golf in June – carded seven birdies and an eagle, which was holed from the sand on six, and avoided a single bogey.

Those trailing Lopez-Chacarra will be hoping the Madrid native's inexperience leads to a blip on Sunday.

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka is one of those who will aim to propel himself into contention as he sits on 10 under for the tournament, though victory will require something special.

Few other big names retain much of a chance of glory, however, with Bryson DeChambeau at seven under and Phil Mickelson another shot back.

Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson are among a group on four under, while 2022 Open Championship winner Cameron Smith is way down near the bottom of the standings at two under.

If Lopez-Chacarra can hold his nerve on Sunday, he will have gone from amateur golfer to winner of a $4million purse within four months.

Jon Rahm wishes the LIV Golf International Series defectors could play at the Ryder Cup, though he conceded "it does not look good" for the rebels' hopes.

The controversial Saudi-backed breakaway league continues to battle for world ranking points for its defectors, with the LIV Golf players also indefinitely banned from featuring on the PGA Tour.

Those bans mean the United States golfers that defected will not be able to compete at the Ryder Cup in Rome next September, while European players are awaiting a hearing in February on the sanctions.

A positive outcome for the Europeans who play on the LIV Golf circuit would see the DP World Tour unable to sanction the rebels, with Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sam Horsfield hoping to feature in Italy.

While Rahm has opposed the breakaway league, alongside likely Team Europe colleague Rory McIlroy, he expressed his disappointment that the best players may not be present at the Ryder Cup.

"The Ryder Cup is not the PGA Tour and European Tour against LIV – it's Europe versus the US, period," Rahm said.

"The best of each against the other, and for me the Ryder Cup is above all. I wish they could play but it doesn't look good."

Recent reports suggest Sergio Garcia has ruled himself out of Ryder Cup contention regardless of the hearing result.

The Spaniard failed to submit an entry for the Mallorca Open later in the month, meaning he will not meet the appearance requirements to retain his membership.

"It is a complicated situation for Sergio," Rahm added. "I understand he decided not to play because the last time he played a tournament on the European circuit he was not received very well, although I imagine it would be different in Mallorca.

"In any case, there are still days left and you can still sign up."

Bryson DeChambeau says it is "crazy" that LIV Golf players have been denied the opportunity to earn world ranking points.

Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) on Thursday announced that no points will be up for grabs at the events in Bangkok this week or Jeddah next week despite a new alliance between LIV Golf and the MENA Tour being formed on Wednesday.

Players on the Dubai-based MENA Tour have been able to earn points since 2016, but OWGR refused to award points for the two remaining LIV Golf events this year as they stated that insufficient notice had been given for a customary necessary review of the changes to be carried out.

That has not gone down well with 2020 U.S. Open DeChambeau, who was among the big names to turn their back on the PGA Tour and join the Saudi-backed breakaway series.

"They're delaying the inevitable," the American said after his first round in Bangkok on Friday. "We've hit every mark in their criteria, so for us not to get points is kind of crazy with having the top - at least I believe we have the top players in the world.

"Not all of them, but we certainly believe that there's enough that are in the top 50 and we deserve to be getting world ranking points.

"When they [OWGR] keep holding it back, they're going to just keep playing a waiting game where we're going to keep dropping down in the rankings to where our points won't even matter.

"That's what they're trying to accomplish, and I hope that people can see right through that rather than believe the lies that they've been told. From my perspective, I think we deserve points."

Four-time major winner Brooks Koepka accused OWGR of "sitting on the fence".

"I don't think it [the OWGR statement] really was much of a response," Koepka said. "I just hate when you sit on the fence. Just pick a side. If it's yes or no, just pick one. I'm not a big fan of that.

"Yeah, not to say something to where it's not really an answer and we'll think about it. Just pick a side. If it's yes, if it's no, it's fine, we'll figure it out from there."

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