Ian Baker-Finch backs Rory McIlroy’s claim Greg Norman needs to leave LIV Golf for the game to find peace

Australian golf great Ian Baker-Finch says he can “understand where Rory McIlroy is coming from” in a growing war of words between the world number one and LIV Golf chief Greg Norman.

McIlroy, who has emerged as a leader among the players for the PGA Tour in his battle against the breakaway LIV Golf tour, this week said peace between the two dueling tours could only be obtained if Norman was to leave his post at LIV.

Baker-Finch, who won The Open in 1991 and is a board member with the Australian PGA, says he thinks both tours can exist at once but Norman’s “combative” leadership could be a problem.

“I think it will be difficult [to find a compromise with Norman in charge],” Baker-Finch told Summer Grandstand.

“It’s been disruptive, combative. It doesn’t need to be that way.

“I think there’s a way we can all live in harmony, without being so combative. Perhaps that is changing the leader to make that a possibility.

“Greg is always going to have a great, iconic heritage here in Australia. For 10 years he was golfing here in Australia, he will always have a place in the history of Australian golf. But I don’t know whether this is doing his legacy any favors.

“I kind of understand where Rory is coming from.”

Ian Baker-Finch smiles while talking on a golf course
Ian Baker-Finch believes creating pathways from Australia to the PGA Tour remains critical.(Getty Images/R&A: Stuart Kerr)

Baker-Finch, who has long been a mentor for the now LIV-aligned Cameron Smith, says he believes the new tour could have a future following the “Formula 1 model”, which sees the limited fields travel the world for events to “create some fun and excitement in the regions”.

But he is in no doubt the PGA Tour remains the best place for the game’s greatest to play.

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Ian Baker-Finch: There is a way we can all live in harmony

“Maybe in his mind [Norman] is shaking up the game of golf by offering a different product, I can’t say it’s good for the game though. I don’t think it’s golf the way we know it, and I don’t think its giving back to golf.

“It’s not a pre-eminent tour. It’s not golf as we know it, with four rounds and a cut.

“How do I compare against Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus or Greg Norman or Rodger Davis? That’s what the PGA Tour and all the other tours are offering their players.

“A lot of the players who have gone the other way are still competing, but they’ve taken the money over the legacy.

“I just see a bunch of guys who already have a lot of money playing for a lot more money. I don’t see that being good for golf necessarily.”

Norman and Smith pose with a black trophy.
Cameron Smith joined LIV Golf shortly after winning The Open.(Getty: Alex Goodlett)

Reflecting on his own career, Baker-Finch pointed to the pathways between the Australian PGA and the American PGA Tour — something he says LIV can’t offer.

“We’ve always been a pathway. I go back 40 years and I always wanted to play the PGA Tour, and my pathway to get to the number one tour in the world was by playing well here in Australia.

“We’ve got over 250 members of tour players here in Australia, and we’re looking after all of them and creating opportunities for them to make their way onto the big tours in the world.

“I’m not saying anything against those guys who have gone and played at LIV, but if we’re looking after everybody here in Australia we have to have pathways to the major tours in the world.”

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