Rory McIlroy – Better for sport if The Open winner not from LIV Golf series

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Rory McIlroy says it would be better for the health of the sport if the Open winner didn’t come from the breakaway LIV Golf Series and supports R&A’s decision not to invite Greg Norman to the 150th anniversary celebrations of the invite tournament.

McIlroy was speaking at St Andrews on Tuesday as he seeks to add a second Open title to the one he won at Royal Liverpool in 2014. This edition of The Open comes at a time when the game is dominated by talk of the breakaway LIV Golf series, a new circuit funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

“Self-serving, for me, yes,” said McIlroy when asked if this year’s Open winner shouldn’t be part of LIV Golf. “But at the end of the day, everyone who’s here has an equal opportunity to go out there and try to win a Claret Jug, no matter what tour they’re on or whatever that is.

“Whoever wins here at the end of the week should be commended for one of the greatest achievements this game has to offer.”

McIlroy was a prominent critic of the LIV series, which is helmed by two-time Open champion Greg Norman. Norman, who won the Open at Turnberry in 1986 and again at St George’s in 1993, is CEO of LIV Golf and has recruited several players from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour to join the new series.

But Norman was not invited to the celebrations by R&A this week, meaning he missed the Champions Dinner and the R&A Celebration of Champions competition.

McIlroy, who played alongside Tiger Woods, Georgia Hall and Lee Trevino in Monday’s Champions competition, said: “I think the focus would have been taken away a bit if [Norman had] was here.

“I supported that decision and I think, right now, because of everything that’s happening in the golf world, I think it was the right decision. But if things change in the future or whatever happens, who knows, but I could see a day when he’s certainly welcome back.”

The R&A explained the decision in a statement on Saturday, which read: “The 150th Open is an extremely important milestone for the sport of golf and we want to ensure the focus remains on celebrating the championship and its legacy. Unfortunately, we don’t think this would be the case if Greg attended. We hope that Greg will be able to compete again in the future when circumstances allow.”

Norman replied that the decision was “petty.”

“I’m disappointed. I would have thought the R&A would stand above all given its position in world golf,” Norman told Australian Golf Digest. “[It’s] petty because all I have done is promote and spread the game of golf worldwide, on and off the golf course, and have done so for more than four decades.” Rory McIlroy – Better for sport if The Open winner not from LIV Golf series

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