British Open players sound off on Greg Norman and LIV Golf

LIV means never having to say you’re sorry.

And you’d better believe no one on either side of the LIV Golf controversy is ready to dole out apologies. The latest salvo: The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews informed two-time Open Championship winner Greg Norman he’s not welcome this year.

Norman is chief executive of the LIV Golf International series, which is Saudi-funded and has lured several PGA Tour stars to the new league. He called the decision “petty,” telling Australian Golf Digest: “All I have done is promote and grow the game of golf globally, on and off the golf course, for more than four decades.”

But even some of his friends here are having a tough time supporting him.

“Let me just sum this up with a couple of words,” said Jack Nicklaus, pressed to comment after first saying he didn’t know much about the situation. “First of all, Greg Norman is an icon in the game of golf. He’s a great player. We’ve been friends for a long time, and regardless of what happens, he’s going to remain a friend. Unfortunately, he and I just don’t see eye to eye in what’s going on. I’ll basically leave it at that.”

Tiger Woods said the players who have left the PGA Tour have “turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position.”

Woods noted that what’s going to happen with world ranking points and criteria for making it into major championships has yet to be determined, in terms of LIV Golf, and that young competitors who go straight to the new league might never have a chance to play in those majors. Instead, they will play in a relatively small number of 54-hole LIV tournaments, many getting their money up front.

“What these players are doing for guaranteed money, what is the incentive to practice?” he said. “What is the incentive to go out there and earn it in the dirt? You’re just getting paid a lot of money up front and playing a few events and playing 54 holes. They’re playing blaring music and have all these atmospheres that are different.

“I can understand 54 holes is almost like a mandate when you get to the Senior Tour. The guys are a little bit older and a little more banged up. But when you’re at this young age and some of these kids — they really are kids who have gone from amateur golf into that organization — 72-hole tests are part of it.”

Rory McIroy said he agreed with the decision to disinvite Norman, but “if things change in the future, or whatever happens, who knows, but I could see a day where he’s certainly welcome back.”

Asked whether it would be good for the game this week if someone other than a LIV golfer wins, McIlroy said: “Selfishly, for me, yes, I think it would be better for the game. But at the end of the day, everyone that’s here has the same opportunity to go out there and try to win a Claret Jug, regardless of what Tour they play on or whatever that is. It doesn’t — whoever wins here at the end of the week should be commended for one of the greatest achievements this game has to offer.

“I’m not going to begrudge anyone if they win the Claret Jug and they play on a different Tour than I play. That’s still a wonderful achievement, and they’re still playing the same sport. But I selfishly want that person to be me, and I’m going to try my best to make that happen.”

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