Rory McIlroy says ‘common sense’ has prevailed after a California judge threw out of court the actions from three LIV Golf players – Talor Gooch, Matt Jones, and Hudson Swafford – to contest this week’s FedEx Cup Play-Offs in Memphis.
As we know, U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman heard arguments from attorneys representing both the PGA Tour and a consortium of eleven LIV-affiliated players on Tuesday afternoon. The trio of LIV players were seeking a temporary restraining order that would permit them to compete in this week’s tournament, the first event of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
However, after a two-hour hearing, Judge Freeman ruled that the players had not proven that they would suffer “irreparable harm” if they were not permitted to play. She also indicated that the players were fully aware of the potential consequences of joining LIV when they did earlier this summer, and that they had earned a substantial amount of purse revenue as a result of their decision to play on the LIV tour. Accordingly, the LIV players will not be in the field this week or the rest of the PGA Tour playoffs.
The players’ temporary restraining order was only one part of a much larger lawsuit that the LIV players, led by Phil Mickelson, have brought against the Tour on antitrust grounds. That suit charges that the PGA Tour has engaged in anti-competitive behaviour and coerced other entities in the golf world — the four majors, various vendors, courses — to shun LIV and its players.
Following the ruling, McIlroy found himself again facing LIV Golf related questions ahead of this week’s event.
“From my vantage point, common sense prevailed and I thought it was the right decision, and now that that has happened, I think it just lets us focus on the important stuff, which is the golf, and we can all move forward and not have that sideshow going on for the next few weeks, which is nice,” he said.
McIlroy was commenting in returning to competition this week in the first of the three FedEx Play-Off Series events and his first tournament since the bitter disappointment of letting slip victory at the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews.
McIlroy is now eight years removed from his last major championship win with back-to-back triumphs at the game’s highest level in 2014. Since then he’s contested 30 majors posting two seconds and the latest heartache being a last day 70 on the Old Course – but having no answer to Aussie Cam Smith’s closing 64 to see the golfer with the mullet haircut joining fellow Aussie Peter Thomson and Kel Nagle winning golf’s oldest major at the Home of Golf.
And coming up the 72nd hole knowing Smith had a first claret jug wrapped-up was not only a bitter pill McIlroy had to swallow but led to a restless ‘where did it all go wrong’ Sunday night.
“That night was tough. The few days after it I was OK, I guess”, he said.
“It probably took me three or four days to be, you know, to sort of get back to myself again. But I think what softened the blow a little bit, I felt — I should have got the ball up and down on nine, 12 and 14. Those are sort of — you could maybe say the third hole as well, but apart from that, I didn’t feel — I didn’t lose it. I think that’s what made it a little easier to get over.
“The fact that Cam went out and shot 30 on the back nine and, you know, I stood on the 10th tee with a two-shot lead and birdied the 10th and I didn’t make birdies at 12 or 14 or 18, but 18 didn’t really matter in the end. You know, that’s the only two things I can really think about that I would have done differently. So that made it a little easier to get over. It’s not as if I went out there, shot 75. I went and played a solid round of golf, didn’t get as much out of it as I was hoping for, but I think because of how I played, it made it I guess just a little easier to get over”.
McIlroy spent the first two weeks since The Open chilling out in the London area before returning to his luxury Bears Club abode last week in Florida and back onto the practice range.
“We sort of stayed in the U.K. for a couple weeks after The Open, spent two weeks down around the London area, which is really nice”, he said. “I just completely just got away from golf. I took two weeks off, didn’t touch a club, didn’t see the inside of a gym, probably didn’t eat a vegetable. Sort of just two weeks of vacation, and then was back in Florida last week and getting back into it.
“I was just trying to get myself ready and prepared for the three weeks coming up. It was nice to take that little break, felt like I needed it, and feel refreshed and ready to go for the Playoffs”.
So, an obvious question came in, what does McIlroy need to do to capture an eight-year removed major win No. 5?
“If I keep playing like that in major championships, the law of averages suggests that I’m going to get myself back in the winner’s circle eventually, so I think it’s more looking at it in that way than the other way,” he said. “I played really solid, I shot 18-under par around St. Andrews for four days and it wasn’t quite good enough to get the job done. If I keep playing the way I’ve been playing in the bigger tournaments, again, as I said, the law of averages would suggest that I’m going to get myself a trophy at some point”.
McIlroy is a two-time FedExCup champion and enters the week No. 6 in the FedExCup standings as he looks to become the first player to win the season-long race three times. McIlroy has five wins in FedExCup Playoffs events, the second-most of any player (6, Dustin Johnson).
Joining McIlroy this week are Seamus Power and Shane Lowry.
Four players who qualified for the Play-Offs have not entered – Daniel Berger (injury), Tommy Fleetwood (personal), Lanto Griffin (injury), Nate Lashley (injury).
IRISH TEE OFF TIMES (IRISH)
Seamus Power – 6.33pm (1st tee)
Rory McIlroy – 7.06pm (1st tee)
Shane Lowry – 7.06pm (10th tee)