New World No.1 Rory McIlroy says the battle with LIV Golf has "gotten out of control" despite claiming Greg Norman is "hiding behind" the series being a force for good.
In an interview with Ewan Murray of The Guardian - which you can read here - McIlroy, 33, opened up on a number of topics.
Chief of which, quite obviously, was how things have panned out with LIV Golf.
Related: McIlroy is unquestionably the best in the world, writes Andy Roberts
The Northern Irishman claimed he felt "betrayed" by some of Ryder Cup Europe's biggest names making the leap to the Saudi-backed breakaway tour.
LIV Golf are due to host their season-ending tournament this week in Miami, with a prize purse of $50m.
Former Ryder Cup Europe stalwarts Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson will be playing.
Stenson was sacked as the captain the European team in July before LIV Golf's Invitational in Bedminster.
Luke Donald, who has taken over from Stenson, remains largely in the dark about who will be in his side at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome next September.
McIlroy told Murray:
"This 'us versus them' thing has gotten way out of control already.
"If the two entities keep doubling down in both directions, it is only going to become irreparable. We are going to have a fractured sport for a long time. That is no good for anyone."
Of the Ryder Cup situation, McIlroy said:
"It's a weird thing. I think it is the first time in my life that I have felt betrayal, in a way. It’s an unfamiliar feeling to me. You build bonds with these people through Ryder Cups and other things. Them knowing that what they are about to do is going to jeopardise them from being a part of that ever again? There was a great opportunity for GMac to maybe be the captain at Adare in 2027. Most of Sergio’s legacy is Ryder Cup-based, same with Poulter, Westwood.
"I would like to think the Ryder Cup means as much to them as it does to me. Maybe it does. But knowing what the consequences could be, I just could never make that decision. OK, it might not be 100% certain but that it could be the outcome? It just isn’t a move I would be willing to make. I thought they felt the same way.
"I feel like the place where they have been able to build their legacy and build their brand, they have just left behind. You could make the same argument about me, I started in Europe and went to America but I have always been supportive of the traditional system. If people felt so aggrieved about some things, I'd rather be trying to make those changes from inside the walls than trying to go outside and be disruptive."
McIlroy also claimed that he doesn't believe the Saudis' intentions were or are bad, but that they have been "misguided" over how they have spent their money.
LIV Golf have given out $255m over eight events in their inaugural season. In 2023, it that figure will increase to $405m.
McIlroy also believes that Dustin Johnson, who recently scooped an extra $18m for becoming LIV's season champion, might be "the smart one".
"I don't necessarily think their intentions are bad. I think they have been misguided in how to spend the money. Out of all the ones who went, DJ seems to be the one who has accepted it the most. Maybe he is the smart one."
McIlroy renewed his rivalry with LIV Golf's chief executive, Greg Norman, before he won the CJ Cup at Congaree Golf Club.
That led to him becoming the World No.1 for the first time since the summer of 2020 and the ninth time in his career that he had reached the summit.
Of Norman, McIlroy told the publication:
"He has basically found people to fund his vendetta against the PGA Tour. I think he hides behind 'force for good’' and all that stuff … this has been his dream for 30 years and he has finally found people who can fund that dream."
McIlroy also opened up on just how much the disappointment of missing out on winning the 150th Open Championship at St. Andrews affected him.
At the time, McIlroy remained composed in interviews in the immediate aftermath of Cameron Smith's stunning final round which included one of the best up-and-downs for par in recent memory.
Smith later joined LIV Golf for a fee reportedly worth $140m.
McIlroy later sobbed into his wife Erica Stoll's arms after his near miss at the Home of Golf. He was similarly emotional last week after going straight over to his good luck charm when he won by one stroke in South Carolina.
McIlroy said of his tears:
"It was a sign of how big it was. I thought the whole Open week was quite nostalgic. St Andrews, the 150th, you could feel the sense of history around you. I was accepted into the R&A as an honorary member that week. So because of so many things, it felt quite emotional anyway. Then to have the chance to win and not get it done, coupled with the fact I haven’t won a major in eight years … if I hadn’t let it out and hadn’t let myself have that release, I wouldn’t have been able to move forward. It was a tough night."
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