As the year has progressed, Rory McIlroy has emerged as one of the PGA Tour’s most valuable assets as it attempts to stave off the threat from LIV Golf.
In particular, McIlroy has frequently been outspoken on the impact of LIV Golf and how it affects the PGA Tour’s future. That has not always gone down well with others. In an interview with the Irish Independent (opens in new tab), McIlroy has admitted that one LIV Golf player who has not taken kindly to his interventions on the subject is Sergio Garcia.
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The Northern Irishman explained that the Spaniard texted him on day two of June’s US Open at The Country Club, Brookline. McIlroy said: “He was basically telling me to shut up about LIV, blah blah blah. I was pretty offended and sent him back a couple of daggers, and that was it.”
The pair’s relationship appears to have deteriorated in light of Garcia’s move to LIV Golf after they had shared a close friendship that included attending each other's weddings. On a professional level, they also share a close history, as they have been Ryder Cup teammates five times.
The tense exchange came just days after McIlroy had won the RBC Canadian Open and took a dig at LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman when he said: “It’s my 21st PGA Tour win and one more than someone else.” Norman had 20 PGA Tour wins, and that comment appears to have been the final straw for Garcia.
McIlroy also revealed that he’d had an earlier disagreement with Norman after being on friendly terms as recently as April. McIlroy explained he’d watched an ESPN documentary on Norman’s infamous collapse at the 1996 Open and messaged him: “So I said to him, ‘Watching it reminded me of how you reached out to me in 2011, and I just want to say that I’ll always appreciate it. It meant a lot. I know our opinion on the game of golf right now is very different, but I just wanted you to know that and wish you all the best.’”
The 33-year-old said Norman responded, 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.”
McIlroy says that soon after, though, his opinion of him soured. He said: “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.” Following Norman’s interview, McIlroy explained it marked a change in his attitude to the Australian. He said: “I thought, ‘You know what? I’m going to make it my business now to be as much of a pain in his a*se as possible.”
However, while McIlroy’s more recent opinions on Norman are well known, saying that he should step aside for any chance of talks to heal the rift between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, there’s another rift that only appears to have grown wider over the months - the one between McIlroy and his one-time close friend, Garcia.
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