No love lost as McIlroy hardens stance against LIV Golf rebels

Bernie McGuire

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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It’s hardly a surprise that it took just a second question in his 17 question press conference, and amounting to a transcript of 2,589 words, for Rory McIlroy to be asked about the biggest controversy to face men’s professional golf.

Indeed, McIlroy was asked ‘tongue in cheek’ how much of his $18m in winning the recent Tour Championship and FedEx Cup bonus pool would he hand over to the BMW PGA media not be asked about LIV Golf.

“Oh, I want you to. I want you to. Give me it all. It’s fine,” said McIlroy smiling.

McIlroy has become an unofficial spokesperson for the PGA Tour and DP World Tour in defending both tours in the propaganda war as DP World CEO Keith Pelley had earlier today described the worsening scenario.

McIlroy avoided any ‘situation’ by not attending a DP World Tour players meeting the night prior but he spoke in the Media Centre at Tour HQ of his disappointment that 17 LIV golfers are teeing-up this week in the Tour’s flagship BMW PGA.

“No, I didn’t attend the player meeting. I’ve been in the middle of this for a year and a half, so there’s no — not no need for me to go but I know everything that’s going on,” he said.

“Wasn’t really a situation I wanted to get myself in knowing who was going to be in that room. So, I sort of removed myself from it and let them thrash it out.

“Yeah, look, I’ve been in the middle of it for a long time here and I know exactly what’s happening and what’s coming down the pipeline. So I didn’t really feel like it was needed for me to be there.

“Look, it is what it is. They are here. They are playing the golf tournament. My opinion is they shouldn’t be here but again that’s just my opinion.

“But we are all going to tee it up on the first tee tomorrow and we are all going to go play 72 holes, which is a novelty for them at this point, and then we’ll go from there.”

McIlroy played down any talk, and given his more public PGA Tour profile, of not remaining true to the PGA Tour saying: “I’m loyal to golf, that’s the thing.

“Golf was here way before we all were and golf will be around much longer. Golf is going to survive regardless. Like we are just a little blip on the continuum of this game.

“But you want to make sure that you leave the game in a better place than you found it. I think that’s where my loyalty lies.

“Again, I’m an ambitious person. I want to play where the best players are playing and for last decade or more, the last players have predominately played in the United States.”

This week also marks the start of the 2023 European Ryder Cup qualifying process and with three players – Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia – former team-mates to McIlroy in the 2021 team at Whistling Straits.

So, with all that is going on in golf, does he see them being team-mates in a year’s time in Rome and will he still be talking to the trio?

“I don’t know. I have no idea. I wouldn’t say I’ve got much of a relationship with them at the minute,” he said.  “But again, like if you’re just talking about Ryder Cup, like that’s not the future of The Ryder Cup Team.

“They are — they have played in probably a combined 25 Ryder Cups, 30 Ryder Cups, whatever it is. It’s time that — and that’s why I was talking about these ten cards going to the U.S. and preparing guys to play at the top level of professional golf.

“Like that’s the future of The Ryder Cup, the Hojgaards, Bobby Mac, whoever else is coming up. Like they are the future of The Ryder Cup Team. That’s what we should be like thinking about and talking about.”

More immediately, there’s going to be no avoiding LIV players over the next four rounds whether in be on the range, the practice putting green or afterwards in the Players Lounge.

And if McIlroy should be tied with a LIV player coming down the last few holes at Wentworth on Sunday?

“I’ll be trying to win a golf tournament regardless,” he said. “They are going to be pretty tired on Sunday; it will be the fourth day!

“But no, look, I’ll be trying to win a golf tournament regardless. My focus is I’m in a great position in The Race to Dubai and I want to finish the season off well because I think it would be a really cool double to do.”

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