An ‘indifferent’ Rory McIlroy has dismissed next week’s controversial LIV Golf Series opening event as not a proper golf tournament.
McIlroy, speaking ahead of teeing-up in this week’s Jack Nicklaus hosted Memorial tournament, clearly was not going to go overboard stating he has ‘good friends’ teeing-up in the opening event at the Centurion Club outside of London.
However, given his prior comments on the issue that currently has the men’s professional golf world walking on egg shells for fear of any legal backlash, McIlroy was somewhat careful with his words.
“I’d say indifferent is probably the way I would describe it”, said McIlroy when asked his reaction to news of those long-time fellow competitors, and also friends, competing.
“There a couple of surprises in there I think.
“I certainly don’t think they should drop the hammer. Look, they are well within their rights to enforce the rules and regulations that have been set. But there’s going to be — you know, it’s going to end up being an argument about what those rules and regulations are.
“Look, I have some very close friends that are playing in this event in London, and I certainly wouldn’t want to stand in their way. For them to do what they feel is right for themselves. I certainly — it’s not something that I would do personally. But I certainly understand why some of the guys have went, and it’s something that we are all just going to keep an eye on and see what happens over these next few weeks”.
The opening event of the LIV Golf Invitational Series features 11 majors winners, three of whom – Charl Schwartzel, Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson – are past Masters winners.
Other major winners in the opening event include Louis Oosthuizen, Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell, whose name in the field comes as a big surprise to Irish fans. You then have the likes of Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and also American Kevin Na.
LIV Golf officials announced 42 of the 48 players to tee-up at St. Albans while five others will qualify from the Asian Tour Series event this week. The 48th and last place in the field is to be an invitation. The good money is that invitation will go to Phil Mickelson, who hasn’t played on the PGA Tour since January as he took a leave of absence following incendiary remarks aimed at the PGA Tour and the oppressive Saudi Arabia regime.
With 16 of the world’s top 100 set to play in the 54-hole, no-cut event featuring a $25 million purse, with $4 million going to the winner, McIlroy was not too complimentary of the field.
“I certainly don’t think the field is anything to jump up and down about,” McIlroy said. “Look the field this week. Look at the field next week in Canada. They are proper golf tournaments”.
McIlroy also pointed to the fact that the majority of those already announced teeing-up next week at St. Albans are at the end of their pre-50 year-old golfing careers.
“It’s a young man’s game nowadays,” he added.
“So, someone that isn’t guaranteed their Tour card next year, another entity comes along and says, we’ll guarantee you this amount for three years, plus you’re playing for a tonne more prize money, and you’re playing less events, you can spend more time with your family.
“I mean, whenever you sit down and look at some of those things, you know, it’s very appealing to some of those guys that are in that position”.
McIlroy is teeing-up in his 12th Memorial tournament, an event in his 20 PGA Tour winning career he is yet to win.
He will tee-up over the opening two rounds in the company of the Masters winning pair of Hideki Matsuyama and Patrick Reed.
Joining McIlroy in the field will be fellow Irish Shane Lowry and Seamus Power.
IRISH TEE TIMES –
1pm – Seamus Power
5.48pm – Shane Lowry
6pm – Rory McIlroy