Rory McIlroy supports decision to keep Greg Norman away from St Andrews for 150th Open
ory McIlroy has backed the R&A’s decision to not invite Greg Norman to the 150th Open celebrations at St Andrews.
The Northern Irishman, along with a number of past winners including Tiger Woods, Gary Player and Lee Trevino, participated in the Celebration of Champions on Monday, a four-hole team event to start a special week at the Home of Golf.
One man not involved was Greg Norman, Open champion in 1986 and 1993, and the Australian has also not been invited to the Champions’ Dinner.
Norman is the CEO of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, a controversial breakaway tour that has resulted in bans, fines and talk of an existential threat to the PGA Tour and DP World Tour in recent months.
While players competiting in the LIV events are able to tee it up at St Andrews, and Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau are among those doing so, McIlroy is glad that the decision has been made to keep Norman away and avoid any further distractions from this week’s major.
“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 to be made,” McIlroy said.
“We want the focus to be on The 150th Open Championship and this being a celebration of a wonderful golf tournament and a wonderful game in general, and I think it was the right decision for that.”
McIlroy was also asked if the sport would suffer should a player involved in the LIV series lift the Claret Jug on Sunday evening.
“Selfishly, for me, yes, I think it would be better for the game [if a LIV player did not win],” he added.
“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. I’m not going to begrudge anyone if they win and they play on a different Tour than I play.”
McIlroy has himself kept his focus on golf in the build-up to this tournament. In 2015 he was set to be a strong favourite as defending champion for the Open at St Andrews, with six top-ten finishes in his previous seven majors. He then ruptured ligaments in his ankle shortly before the tournament when playing football with friends, forcing him to miss out.
That was the last time McIlroy played football, and it also halted his major momentum with no wins in golf’s four biggest tournaments since then.
He now gets another chance at St Andrews, with his strong recent form leading many to believe the eight-year drought could be coming to an end. Should McIlroy win a fifth major this week, he will view it as the pinnacle of his career.
“I don’t know if a golfer’s career isn’t complete if you don’t, but I think it’s the Holy Grail of our sport,” McIlroy said.
“Not a lot of people are going to get that opportunity to achieve that, but that’s what winning an Open at St Andrews is. It’s one of the highest achievements that you can have in golf.
“There’s a lot of great players that have won Opens and maybe not won Opens at St Andrews, so I think it’s unfair to say that a golfer’s career isn’t complete without that.
“But it’s certainly up there with one of the greatest things you can do in our game.”