Rory McIlroy declares "golf will survive" despite divide caused by LIV Golf

Rory McIlroy admitted he doesn't have much of a relationship with the likes of Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia since the emergence of LIV Golf.

Matt Chivers's picture
Wed, 7 Sep 2022
Rory McIlroy says LIV Golf players shouldn't be at BMW PGA Championship

Rory McIlroy believes LIV Golf players shouldn't be playing at the BMW PGA Championship and the rumour mill surrounding the new series appeals more than the actual golf.

The Northern Irishman told the press to "give him it all" at Wentworth on Wednesday as he talked LIV, expressed excitement for the DP World Tour 2024 schedule and stated the golf "pyramid" isn't broken.

The 33-year-old described the Saudi-backed series as extremely disruptive and he admitted he doesn't have "much of a relationship" with the likes of Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia despite winning Ryder Cups together for Europe.

After winning the FedEx Cup for the third time, McIlroy said it would be hard to stomach seeing 18 LIV Golf players at the BMW PGA Championship, but he told the media he hadn't seen any of them so far in Surrey.

"It is what it is. They're here and they're playing the golf tournament. My opinion is they shouldn't be here, but that's just my opinion. We're all going to tee it up on the first tee tomorrow and we're going to play 72 holes, which is a novelty for them," McIlroy said.

"I haven't done anything differently. They're the ones who have made that decision, so I can sit here with my head held high and say I haven't done anything differently.

"I'm loyal to golf. Golf was here way before we all were and it will be around much longer - golf will survive regardless. We're just a little blip on the continuum of this game. 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 and I want to play against the best players who are playing and for the last decade or more, the best players have predominantly played in the USA."

McIlroy, who won the BMW PGA in 2014, joked that the only way LIV Golf players could return to the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour is through Q-School.

The four-time major champion didn't attend the meeting on Tuesday with a number of LIV Golfers who met with DP World Tour boss Keith Pelley for approximately 20 minutes. 

The first meeting on Monday took place with Pelley and a number of LIV players who'd flown in from the Boston Invitational which was won by Dustin Johnson. The CEO was challenged with questions on the strategic alliance with the PGA Tour.

LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman has often toed the line of "Golf, but louder" and growing the game through the controversial investment from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. But McIlroy believes golf is not broken, so there's no need to fix it.

"I don't see how 48 cherry-picked players are growing the game in any way. There have to be pathways, there has to be a meritocracy and you need to give someone that ambition or the opportunity to know that if they're playing on the Challenge Tour, in a year's time or five years' time, they can be challenging for major championships.

"There is this pyramid and this funnel that has been so good for golf for so many years. I don't think it's a broken system, so whenever something like this comes along that is incredibly disruptive and they're saying things about how golf needs to change. It doesn't need to change.

"Golf is the most wonderful game in the world. It doesn't need to change. Could there be things we can do to make it more entertaining from a TV product perspective? Of course. But, that's something we can do from inside the walls."

Much like Pelley earlier in the day, McIlroy was excited about the DP World Tour 2024 schedule which will see a more compact season with larger prize funds.