Rory McIlroy concedes ‘mistake’ in being ‘too judgemental’ of initial players who joined LIV Golf | Golf News

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“I was probably judgemental of the guys that went at the start and I think that was a bit of a mistake on my part,” concedes Rory McIlroy; McIlroy says he “would love” LIV to become like the “IPL of golf” with bespoke windows for team events during the annual calendar

Last Updated: 03/01/24 12:46pm

Rory McIlroy says LIV would "sound like fun" if it was more akin to the IPL in cricket

Rory McIlroy says LIV would “sound like fun” if it was more akin to the IPL in cricket

Rory McIlroy has expressed regret at being “too judgemental” on the tranche of players who initially defected to LIV Golf.

McIlroy, who was outspoken in his criticism of the first players who joined the Saudi-funded series in 2022, admitted he “basically went through the last two years with this altruistic approach of looking at the world in the way I’ve wanted to see it” but had “accepted reality” that LIV is “part of our sport now”.

Talks between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which bankrolls LIV, aimed at unifying golf in a new commercial entity have been extended into 2024 beyond an initial December 31 deadline.

“I was probably judgemental of the guys that went at the start and I think that was a bit of a mistake on my part because I now realise not everyone’s in my position or in Tiger [Woods’] position,” McIlroy told the Stick to Football podcast with Sky Bet.

“You get this offer and what do you do?

Relive Rory McIlroy's two wins, which saw him claim a fifth Race to Dubai title, and his starring role in Europe's Ryder Cup triumph

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Relive Rory McIlroy’s two wins, which saw him claim a fifth Race to Dubai title, and his starring role in Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph

Relive Rory McIlroy’s two wins, which saw him claim a fifth Race to Dubai title, and his starring role in Europe’s Ryder Cup triumph

“We all turned professional to make a living playing the sports that we do and I think that’s what I realised over the past two years, I can’t judge people for making that decision.

“So if I regret anything it was probably being too judgemental at the start.”

Asked how his relationship was with the players who had switched from the established tours, McIlroy replied: “Most things are cool, the one thing that has bothered me is I think we have all grown up and played on European Tour, PGA Tour and that has given us a platform to turn in to who we have and give us the profile.

“So when people have played that for, say, 15 or 20 years and then they jump to LIV and then they just start talking cr** about where they’ve come from, that’s what bothers me because you wouldn’t be in this position if you didn’t have what you had coming up.”

Andrew Coltart provided his thoughts on one of the moments of the golfing year, where McIlroy had a dispute with caddie Joe LaCava at the Ryder Cup. You can listen to the Sky Sports Golf Podcast now

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Andrew Coltart provided his thoughts on one of the moments of the golfing year, where McIlroy had a dispute with caddie Joe LaCava at the Ryder Cup. You can listen to the Sky Sports Golf Podcast now

Andrew Coltart provided his thoughts on one of the moments of the golfing year, where McIlroy had a dispute with caddie Joe LaCava at the Ryder Cup. You can listen to the Sky Sports Golf Podcast now

McIlroy added: “I don’t begrudge anyone for going and taking that money and doing something different but don’t try and burn the place down on your way out.

“That’s sort of my attitude towards it because some people are happy playing in the existing structure, and that’s totally fine too. But I think it’s just created this division that hopefully will stop in the near future because I think it’s the best thing for golf.”

He said Jon Rahm, who became arguably the biggest signing for LIV in December, had made a “smart business move” and that the timing of the Spaniard’s switch was “opportunistic” amid the ongoing peace talks.

“He’s smart and I think he sees things coming together at some point,” McIlroy added.

Butch Harmon believes Jon Rahm's departure might increase the urgency of the PGA Tour to form their Framework Agreement with LIV Golf.

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Butch Harmon believes Jon Rahm’s departure might increase the urgency of the PGA Tour to form their Framework Agreement with LIV Golf.

Butch Harmon believes Jon Rahm’s departure might increase the urgency of the PGA Tour to form their Framework Agreement with LIV Golf.

The 34-year-old, a four-time major winner and current world No 2, said he had “never had an offer” from LIV to switch himself.

“I just didn’t engage,” he added. “At this point I’ve pretty much set my stall out.”

McIlroy ‘would love’ LIV to be ‘IPL of golf’

Having seemingly softened his stance towards the breakaway series and those deciding to compete in it, McIlroy suggested that he would like to see LIV become akin to what the Indian Premier League (IPL) is to cricket.

He said that the creation of the Saudi-backed league had “exposed some of the flaws” in professional golf, which he now hoped would be corrected in time.

“To me, what I would love LIV to turn into is almost the IPL of golf,” said McIlroy.

“The IPL in cricket, they take two months during the calendar. You’ve got your four weeks in May and your four weeks in November and you go and do this team stuff and it’s a bit different and it’s a different format. If they were to do something like that I’d be, ‘yeah, that sounds like fun’ because you are at least working within the ecosystem. It’s not like the Saudis in football are trying to take over the entire sport.

“The Saudis basically exposed some of the flaws in the structures of professional golf and they could come in with $1bn or $2bn, which couldn’t even buy you a football club in some instances. But they have been able to completely disrupt our game with that money.

Rory McIlroy says the merger between PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf  'is not LIV' and reassures fans he still 'hates LIV Golf'.

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Rory McIlroy says the merger between PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf ‘is not LIV’ and reassures fans he still ‘hates LIV Golf’.

Rory McIlroy says the merger between PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf ‘is not LIV’ and reassures fans he still ‘hates LIV Golf’.

“So it exposed some of those flaws and hopefully we can all put our heads together and think about what’s the best thing for the game going forward.”

But the 34-year-old, who maintained “I still hate LIV” last June when the shock framework agreement was announced despite welcoming the move to reunite golf, believes the big money being used to entice players to join the rival competition would still be better spent on helping grow the game at entry level.

“The thing that I’ve come to realise is if you’ve got people, or a sovereign wealth fund, wanting to spend money in your sport, ultimately that’s a good thing, but you just want to maybe get them to spend it the right way and spend it on things that are important in the game,” he added.

“So instead of giving someone $100m why don’t you put $50m into a grassroots programme for the R&A or the USGA so that you can actually help? Whenever they say ‘growing the game’ spending that money elsewhere to actually grow the game and not just try to buy talent, I think would be a way better way to spend that money.”

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