Breakdown of Rory McIlroy's friendships with LIV players "sad" says Donald

Luke Donald says it's "sad" Rory McIlroy won't continue friendships with players who have joined LIV Golf Tour as he talks Ryder Cup preparations.

Ben Smith's picture
Fri, 23 Sep 2022
Breakdown of Rory McIlroy's friendships with LIV players "sad" says Donald

Ryder Cup Europe captain Luke Donald says it's "sad" Rory McIlroy is unlikely to continue friendships with players who have joined the LIV Golf Invitational Series

McIlroy, 33, lashed out at the LIV players before the Italian Open on the DP World Tour last week, suggesting he believes those who have joined Greg Norman's mega-money upstart should not be allowed to participate in the Ryder Cup. 

The Northern Irishman said he "just couldn't help myself" from being strongly opinionated on the subject matter as he feels so passionately about the power struggle currently gripping the world of professional golf. 

McIlroy has teamed up with Tiger Woods to create a new Monday night golf league - called TGL - while he also appeared to be one of the driving forces behind the sweeping changes to the PGA Tour that were announced by commissioner Jay Monahan in response to LIV. 

Related: Jay Monahan rules out LIV co-operation

Donald, 44, spoke to the media too before the Italian Open. Donald previously said he had no plans "to do a Henrik" when he was unveiled as the Swede's replacement. 

The Englishman conceded that the situation with LIV means that "we're still a little bit in limbo", adding: "We don't know what's going to happen with the lawsuit, so I'm trying to not really put too much energy [into thinking about it]. Once we get a clearer picture, I can give you better answers."

Donald has now spoken to Riath Al Sammarai for The Daily Mail, where he opened up on how the "fracturing" of the sport has affected his preparations. 

He even joked that "maybe we need a family quiz night" to ease the tensions. 

Related: Stenson axed by Swedish Golf Federation over LIV Golf move

"There's certainly more fracturing in our sport than we've ever seen," he told the paper. "Part of my job is to have 12 guys unified and wanting to come together next October.

"Hopefully, things will improve and we'll have a bit more clarity. But until then we'll just be doing the best we can, controlling what we can. It is enjoyable and stressful and I think going towards that stress is the only approach. Maybe we need a family quiz night."

Related: Patrick Cantlay not ruling out a LIV Golf move

Asked if he had any sympathy for players who have joined the LIV Golf Tour, Donald said: "I'm not sure sympathy is the right word.

"I think a lot of the guys knew if something like this happened there was a chance they couldn't play on the Cup or Tour. They took that chance because they had an amazing career, so I wouldn't say sympathy." 

He added: "Something I want to get out of this (captaincy) is to have lasting relationships with the 12 guys and continue that. That is the sad thing when you talk about Rory and some of the relationships. I am sure he would have loved to continue those.'

"There is a little bit of a struggle for power right now and sometimes competition can be good. I think the top players will ultimately benefit from this and we are seeing that. But hopefully there can be some sort of a compromise, if that is the right word.

Related: Norman accused of "pimping a billion dollars of Saudi Arabian money"

"The good thing is the Ryder Cup represents something bigger than all of this. It represents something different to what is going on right now — unity and coming together and cohesion. 

"It's about playing for the good of your team-mates. It's why I am excited about this job. It is important to continue that history." 

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