Rory McIlroy says he can understand why some players left to join the LIV Golf Series, however he insists he is happy playing on the PGA Tour and would not consider leaving
Rory McIlroy has reaffirmed his commitment to the PGA Tour and warned of the dangers of purely pursuing cash ahead of the start of the LIV Golf Series on Thursday.
The Northern Irishman was speaking after Bryson DeChambeau confirmed he will play in the second event of the Saudi-backed series, which starts in Portland later this month.
Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler are also reportedly set to join the likes of Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood who are playing in the inaugural tournament at the Centurion Club.
Ian Poulter says playing in the LIV Golf Series should not be viewed as controversial, describing it as a ‘magnificent opportunity’
McIlroy respects their decision but will continue to play on the PGA Tour and has no intention of joining the LIV Golf Series.
“I think my stance on it has been pretty clear from the start. It’s not something that I want to participate in,” said McIlroy at his press conference ahead of this week’s Canadian Open, where he is the ‘defending champion’ after winning the last staging of the tournament back in 2019.
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“I certainly understand the guys that went and understand what their goals and their ambitions are in their life, and I’m certainly not knocking anyone for going.
“It is their life. It is their decision. They can live it the way they want to, but, for me, I want to play on the PGA Tour against the best players in the world.
Bryson DeChambeau will be playing the second LIV Golf Series event in the USA at the end of June
“I was speaking to a few people yesterday and one of the comments was any decision that you make in your life that is purely for money usually doesn’t end up going the right way.
“Obviously, money is a deciding factor in a lot of things in this world but if it is purely for money, it never seems to go the way you want it to, and I’ve had that before a couple of times before in my life.
“There are other things that are a part of it too, but it is a weird time in professional golf. I said it a couple of weeks ago, we are just going to have to see how this season plays out, and if any other guys do decide to go another direction than the established tours, see what the consequences are.
“For me right now, I can only speak personally. It is not something I envisage ever doing and I’m happy playing on the PGA Tour. I have a nice schedule, but I can pick for myself. I can spend a lot of time at home with my family if I want to, prioritise the majors and there is nothing about my schedule or my life or my earnings or anything that I would change.”
McIlroy against Ryder Cup bans
McIlroy believes players taking part in the LIV Golf Series should not be deemed ineligible to play for Europe or take a future captaincy role in the Ryder Cup.
Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Graeme McDowell have all starred for Europe against the United States in the past and have been tipped for future captaincy roles.
“Yes, I still think they still should be able to [represent Europe],” he said.
Graeme McDowell says the LIV Tour is not designed to divide, hopes ‘we can all get on together’ and that inclusion will not affect Ryder Cup participation
“They’ve been such a part of the Ryder Cup. Look at the history Poulter has at the Ryder Cup. It would be such a shame for him not to be involved going forward, whether that’s as a vice-captain or a captain or one last time in a playing capacity.
“Same with G Mac and a lot of these guys. I don’t know. It’s hard because as you said they’re playing in defiance of the tour and whatever else is going on. I just think everyone needs to get in a room and figure it all out.
“I feel like the professional game was on a nice trajectory where everything was becoming more cohesive and now it’s becoming more fractured again and I don’t think that’s a good thing.”
Thomas: PGA Tour best place to play, but everybody entitled to opinion
Recently-crowned PGA champion Justin Thomas has insisted he has no bad feelings towards players who have decided to compete on the LIV Tour, though reaffirmed his belief the PGA Tour remains golf’s best platform.
“I think a lot of us are, I don’t know if annoyed or tired is the right way, it’s just one of those things,” he said. “I’ve thought a lot about it and it’s like, people are entitled to choose as they wish, I don’t dislike DJ (Dustin Johnson) now, I don’t think he’s a bad dude, I won’t treat him any differently, he’s entitled to choose as he wishes and I think the day and age we live in now is so negative.
Two-time major champion Justin Thomas expresses his disappointment with those who have turned their back on the PGA Tour but acknowledges their freedom of choice to do so
“You see it in everything, sport, politics, whatever it is, if you disagree with somebody you just feel you’re entitled to hate them and talk bad about them when everybody is entitled to their own opinion.
“It doesn’t make you a bad person. I’m disappointed and wish he and others wouldn’t have done it, but that’s their decision. Guys can do as they wish, if they want to go they can go, if they want to stay they can stay.
“Selfishly, I think the PGA Tour is the best place to play in the world and the decision is theirs. I wish it wouldn’t be taking away from the great storylines and the things going on, on a tour that has been around for a long time.”
Coltart: Other players may have their heads turned
Sky Sports commentator and pundit Andrew Coltart believes the money on offer in the LIV Golf Series is likely to tempt other players from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, especially if they see some of the lower-ranked players winning large sums of cash.
He said: “They’re not saying it in these press conferences but it is purely just about the money. Vast sums of money are being presented to these individuals right in front of them and clearly we are seeing how impossible that is to turn down.
“I think we may have had the names in place prior to this stage. It was pretty naive to think with what has been talked about over the last 12 months, some of these players were not going to turn their eyes towards this series.
Sky Sports’ Andrew Coltart believes it will not be long until bigger players’ heads are turned as they see lower-ranked players picking up big money on the LIV Golf Tour
“From my point of view I’m not surprised. I thought there was going to be a little bit more of a move en masse, rather than one or two players putting their head above the parapet, and now some others have joined in.
“Let’s not forget you are talking about a £20m prize fund – the winner takes away £4m. Once other players start to see some of the other maybe lesser lights of that series pocketing these large sums of money, they are also going to have a look at it and say, ‘I’m maybe missing out on this opportunity’, and they’ve got to then make that moral obligation, moral decision, themselves as to whether they jump ship or whether they stay and play their respective tours.”
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