McIlroy Reveals 'Brainwash' Comment Started Norman Rift

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, McIlroy stated that Norman's 'brainwashed' comments about him caused the rift between the two to start

Rory and Greg Norman stare on
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When it comes to LIV Golf, Rory McIlroy has arguably been the most outspoken player about the Saudi-backed series. Back in February, he claimed LIV Golf was 'dead in the water', before admitting six months later that he may have "got it wrong" when it came to the threat of LIV Golf.

McIlroy's original comments weren't forgotten by the league's CEO, Greg Norman, with the 67-year-old appearing to aim a dig in the Northern Irishman's direction, using McIlroy's own words that LIV was "dead in the water" against him in a social media post. Following the dig, the four-time Major champion called for Norman to stand down from his post of CEO, so peace talks can begin with an "adult in the room".

The pair have regularly been firing blows at one another throughout 2022, but it was a comment made by Norman, in which he accused McIlroy of being “brainwashed” by the PGA Tour, that reignited the controversy between the two. That's at least according to the Northern Irishman in a lengthy interview with the Sunday Independent and Paul Kimmage

Rory McIlroy during an interview ahead of the 2022 DP World Tour Championship

The World No.1 has enjoyed a superb 2022 on the course

(Image credit: Getty Images)

According to the 33-year-old, the domestic began pre-COVID in February 2020. At the time, the Premier Golf League was a big talking point, with the Saudi-backed league offering players higher purses. However, McIlroy became the first player to say he "was out" and that the more he thought about it, the more he didn't like it.

“He (Norman) wasn’t happy, and we had a pretty testy back-and-forth and he was very condescending. ‘Maybe one day you’ll understand’ and all this (stuff),” McIlroy said in the Independent interview.

14 months later though, after watching an ESPN documentary on Norman's Masters collapse which saw the Green Jacket slip through his hands, McIlroy sent the Australian a message that stated: “Hopefully it reminds everyone of what a great golfer you were.”

In the interview, McIlroy revealed that Norman had sent him a moving note following his collapse at the 2011 Masters: “He was great,” McIlroy said. “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.’

“So, a bit of an olive branch, and he came back to me straightaway: ‘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."

Greg Norman at the LIV Golf Miami Team Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It didn't finish there though... Just a few weeks later, while speaking to the Washington Post, Norman came out with a barrage aimed at McIlroy in which he claimed he was brainwashed by the PGA Tour.

Understandably, McIlroy didn't take too lightly to the comments, stating: "A couple of weeks later, he (Norman) 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.”

After Norman's interview, McIlroy added: “I thought, you know what? I’m going to make it my business now to be as much of a pain in his a**e as possible,” with the four-time Major winner claiming that the PGA Tour is lucky Norman is involved in LIV because “I think if they had found someone less polarizing, LIV could have made more inroads.”

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Matt Cradock
Staff Writer

Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.

Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.

Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?

Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°

Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°

Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°

Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°

Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x