Rory McIlroy: "The most uncomfortable I've felt in the last 12 months"

Rory McIlroy had a plan to drown out the noise at the Canadian Open. 

Ben Smith's picture
Thu, 8 Jun 2023
Rory McIlroy: "The most uncomfortable I've felt in the last 12 months"

Rory McIroy says he was 'the most uncomfortable I've ever felt in the last 12 months' when he faced the media after the stunning news the PGA Tour had partnered with LIV Golf's Saudi backer. 

McIlroy, 34, told how he felt as if he was the 'sacrificial lamb' having staunchly defended the PGA Tour for the better part of two years.

Despite having learned of the news just hours before, he claimed the deal was ultimately the best thing for the sport. 

The Northern Irishman also said he believed it was sad this week's Canadian Open was overshadowed once again owing to an off-course news story. 

Last year McIlroy was triumphant at Oakdale Golf & Country Club having been involved in an exhilarating three-way tussle with Justin Thomas and Tony Finau

McIlroy emerged the winner then fired a dig straight at Greg Norman. How times have changed. 

Here in Toronto, McIlroy opened up his title defence with a 1-under 71. It was a performance that was typical of McIlroy of late. Mixed. Five birdies and four bogeys. 

He was playing alongside England's Justin Rose and revealed they deliberately didn't speak to each other after the first hole so they could just concentrate on golf. 

McIlroy said:

"Rosey and I said, all right, no chatting until lunch so that we can actually concentrate on what we're doing out there. We started to get in a conversation walking down the 1st and we're like, No, let's stop this. Let's just focus on our golf and we'll say what we want to say when we get inside. So it was nice to play a round of golf and focus on something else for those five hours we were out there." 

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He said he is feeling more pressure off the golf course right now. In the past, that had been different. "The most uncomfortable I've felt in the last 12 months was my press conference yesterday," he said. 

McIlroy was also asked about Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the Saudi businessman who will be the chairman of the new yet-to-be-named entity between the PGA Tour, LIV Golf and DP World Tour. 

He said:

"Yeah, so I played a pro-am with Yasir in Dubai a few years ago. And then I've seen him -- I was with him at a Formula 1 race randomly a couple years ago in Austin. I saw him in Dubai at the end of last year. So he's obviously been in and around the golf world and obviously the wider sports world. So he's sort of, he runs in the same circles as a lot of people that I know." 

Is he good at golf? McIlroy said:

"I would say he's an avid golfer. I think he really does like the game of golf. He likes playing it. He's a very impressive man. Harvard Business School. Runs seven or 800 billions worth of dollars and invested in a ton of different companies. He's a very smart, impressive man."

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