reg Norman has long said LIV Golf is good for the game – and it turned out to be, albeit 3,500 miles from the new series’ inaugural event.
Rory McIlroy has long been outspoken about the perils of LIV and admitted after winning the Canadian Open that beating Norman’s total of 20 PGA Tour wins was the motivating factor for his scintillating final round.
If the PGA Tour had been looking for the perfect all-good publicity, it has arrived in the last 18 holes in Toronto. Justin Rose’s shot in the 18th for a game-record run of 58 was just a sideshow, as McIlroy beat him alongside Justin Thomas and Tony Finau in a thrilling finish to win by two strokes.
And McIlroy pointedly referred to Norman and the Saudi billions funding golf’s rebel streak the day after his 21st Tour victory.
“I got extra motivation from what’s happening across the pond,” McIlroy said. “The spearhead guy who has 20 PGA Tour wins and I was tied with him. I wanted to get ahead of him and I did. So that was really cool, just a bit of pride for that one. It is a day that I will remember for a long time. »
McIlroy birdied five of the front nine and started the back nine with three straight birdies before two late bogeys left him in danger of losing a first title win since the CJ Cup in October. But birdies on the last two holes gave him a two-stroke advantage over Finau in the second, with Thomas two more strokes back. Rose’s late charge was enough to give her a share of fourth place.
McIlroy has been the spokesperson for both the Tour and against LIV Golf in recent weeks, and supported him on the course.
“It’s amazing to play with Tony and JT today, two of the best players in the world, we all play the way we did,” he said. “The worst score in the group was six under. It was quite fun to be a part of it – the crowd, the caliber of play, everything about today was first class, which this Tour is. It’s the best Tour in the world, with the best talent.
Meanwhile, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, who suspended the Tour Rebels shortly after the start of the first LIV event in St Albans, spoke publicly about the split for the first time.
“It was an unfortunate week created by unfortunate decisions, those decisions being players who chose to violate our tournament regulations,” he said. “It’s my job to protect, defend and celebrate our loyal PGA Tour members – and that’s exactly what I’ve done.”