McIlroy insists LIV players can’t expect to have their cake and eat it

John Craven

Rory McIlroy (Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

John Craven

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Although Rory McIlroy understands why many players in the latter stages of their careers have signed up to mega-money contracts at LIV Golf, he also believes those players shouldn’t be allowed to have their cake and eat it too.

McIlroy was speaking from Adare Manor following news that Ian Poulter had won his appeal against his ban from the Scottish Open this week.

Poulter was one of 16 players contesting suspensions and fines from the DP World Tour for joining LIV, and although this win was significant, it remains only a “stay of the sanctions imposed, pending the hearing of the players’ appeal as to whether those sanctions were appropriate”.

In other words, Poulter can play this week at Renaissance but he’s only won a battle, not the war, and ultimately that’s what golf has turned into – a war between the status quo of the PGA and DP World Tours and the new Saudi-backed disruptors, LIV Golf.

“I think at this stage, if you go over and play on a different tour, then go over and play on a different tour,” McIlroy told BBC NI.

“I think this whole having your cake and eating it thing results in the resentment within the membership, but for me, I don’t resent anyone.

“I understand why guys have went, especially the guys who are in the latter stages of their career. If I was in their position, I’d seriously have to think about doing the same thing, like I understand.

“Is there a difference of opinion? Yes… but I can argue with you about a certain thing but I’m still going to like you at the end of it! A lot of these guys are my friends and they’re still going to be my friends regardless of the decisions they make.”

McIlroy’s comments echo those of Billy Horschel, albeit not nearly as harshly; the American labelling a number of LIV defectors as “liars and hypocrites” for playing the victim card over the past number of weeks.

“To say that they wanted to also support the DP World or PGA Tour going forward, while playing the LIV Tour, is completely asinine in my opinion,” said Horschel.

“It’s unfortunate that those guys made their bed and that’s what they want to do. Leave us alone, honestly.

“Last week’s events, I’ve been really frustrated by because there are a lot of guys that are hypocrites that are not telling the truth and lying about some things.

“I just can’t be diplomatic anymore about it as I have been in the past.”

McIlroy, however, has remained diplomatic and while he still accepts people’s reservations about the source of the money funding LIV Golf, he feels such investment can only benefit the game should it filter into golf’s existing structures.

“Long term it will make the game better,” McIlroy said. “There’s so much chat about where the money’s coming from, Saudi, but they sponsor so many other things, they’re all over sport.

“I understand people’s reservations with everything but at the same time, if these people are serious about investing billions of dollars into golf, I think ultimately that’s a good thing.

“All the narrative is about how it’s splitting the game. I think everyone just needs to try and come together a little bit more.”

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