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Greg Norman denies LIV Golf approach for Rory McIlroy but insists door remains open for interested players

LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman dismissed reports of a £627m offer made to Rory McIlroy to switch from the PGA Tour; Norman insisted he has no insight into negotiations to reunite men's golf; Jon Rahm also spoke on whether LIV should switch to 72-hole events

Greg Norman watches on the fourth hole during second round at the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club Friday, April 12, 2024, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Image: LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman insisted there was no offer put to Rory McIlroy to join the series

Greg Norman denied that LIV Golf made an offer to Rory McIlroy to switch from the PGA Tour, but added the door remains open for anyone interested in joining the series.

Four-time major winner McIlroy, once one of LIV's staunchest critics but who has adopted a more conciliatory tone recently, was reported last week to have turned down a £627m offer to switch allegiance.

McIlroy was quick to shut down the rumours, insisting he had no ambitions to play anywhere other than the PGA Tour.

Speaking ahead of this week's tournament in Adelaide, LIV chief executive Norman dismissed any notion an offer had been put forward to McIlroy, although the two-time Open champion would welcome talks with the 34-year-old or other players about what the Saudi-backed series could offer them.

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Rory McIlroy has dismissed a report about his impending move to LIV Golf and confirms he will remain on PGA Tour in future

"LIV never put an offer to him," Norman said. "We didn't need to make a comment about this, this is just typical white noise that gets out there in the industry.

"If Rory was willing to sit down and have a conversation with us, would we be happy to sit down with him? One hundred per cent, no different than any other player who would be interested in coming on and playing with us.

"It's understanding the facts about what LIV represents and what LIV can deliver on a global basis, it's up to you to determine it. I've sat down with one top, top PGA TOUR player in his house with another member of my team, walking through the whole process, and he was so impressed.

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"He said, 'well, that's not what we're told in the locker room. This is really impressive', but he made the decision, he told me up two days later and said, 'I've decided to stay where I'm at'.

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A look back on how Rory McIlroy's stance on LIV Golf appears to have changed over the course of the last two years

"I said, 'happy days. You made a decision on fact. If you're happier over here, fine, stay there. Your door is always open; if you want to come back and have a conversation with us, happy to do that'."

Along with pledging his future to the PGA Tour ahead of last week's RBC Heritage, McIlroy is set to re-join the PGA Tour policy board just five months after stepping down from it.

The Northern Irishman's decision to take a place on the board as one of six player representatives, taking over from Webb Simpson, comes at a time when negotiations between the PGA Tour and LIV's financial backers PIF are understood to be stalling.

Despite a framework agreement between the different factions in men's professional golf being announced 10 months ago, they have not yet signed off on a formal reunification.

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When questioned about comments made by his former agent, Chubby Chandler, suggesting a move to LIV Golf could still be impossible, Rory McIlroy kept his cards close to his chest

However, Norman insisted he had no insight into how negotiations are progressing and that his only focus is on continuing to grow LIV, which reaches the midway point of it 12-event 2024 schedule at The Grange in Adelaide this week.

"Our investor wanted to invest into LIV because he loved the opportunity of the franchise model, what he could do with it and how we can build it out on a global platform," Norman said.

"So, me specifically, I don't know what's going on over there. I really don't want to know what's going on over there because we are so fixated on growing and developing and building out what LIV is today and looking and doing our schedule for 2025 and going into 2026.

"Our responsibility is to look after our people, our players, and where we want to go. I don't have an answer."

Could LIV move to 72-hole events in future?

One of LIV's biggest differences from the traditional tournaments on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour is that, along with the team element, it is played over a 54-hole no-cut format as opposed to 72-hole events with a cut after the second round.

However, Jon Rahm, who moved to LIV in December last year, recently suggested the series should look at moving to a 72-hole format to build trust among sceptical golf fans and expanded on that ahead of the Adelaide event.

"I think there's a level of comfort when I say that because it's a little bit more of what we're used to seeing in golf," Rahm said. "I came to this realization, and I think it could help a lot of fans' trust in LIV a little bit more because that's a lot of the complaints that I see from a lot of people, but I made the analogy a little bit ago of why I think we can end up with a great product.

"In football… the one thing I realized is they [across different leagues and competitions] all play under the same set of rules. While we play under most set of rules, the one key difference is 72 holes.

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Rory McIlroy is hoping that the Ryder Cup rules surrounding LIV Golf players' eligibility will be amended so Jon Rahm can take part in 2025

"The only sport that I see that does it a little bit different to where they play pretty much the same and then the Grand Slams are different is tennis.

"But at the end of the day, LIV is a business. If it doesn't fit the product, it doesn't fit the product. I'm just a player. There's a lot of people that are a lot smarter than me that can figure it out and explain why they believe 54 holes may be better for them."

Norman admitted moving to 72 holes is something which is being discussed, although added that it would have to make sense economically and would take away the intensity of players having to perform right from the start of a tournament.

"When you can tee up on Friday, it's a sprint to the end," Norman said. "Sometimes you can have an average first round and then you come back and shoot a 64 and get yourself back into it, now you're into the weekend.

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Jon Rahm spoke openly about his switch to LIV Golf ahead of The Masters, admitting he would love to play on the PGA Tour again in future

"It is intense pressure on it straight away because you have to perform immediately right off the bat.

"It's a great conversation to have. We will continue to have that conversation going forward.

"There are things that we sit back and look at to see what is the most optimal solution to make this a better and better and better event, and 72 holes is discussed."

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