Rory McIlroy reveals LIV Golf star 'hounded' him for years to play pairs event: "I politely declined"

World number two Rory McIlroy has revealed a former Masters champion 'hounded' him for years to play in the PGA Tour's pairs event.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy has revealed two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson 'hounded' him for years to play in the PGA Tour's pairs event. 

The Northern Irishman is teeing it up in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans for the very first time this week. 

Over the years, the hit-and-giggle stop has never truly been on his radar.

He has never wanted to play four tournaments in a row, especially when major season kicks in. 


That changed after the 2023 Ryder Cup in Italy when a perhaps drunken McIlroy and Shane Lowry agreed to form a team. 

"I like playing golf in the middle of the fairway," joked Lowry. "So I'm looking forward to this week."

McIlroy was asked by a reporter how close he was to playing this tournament in the past. 

"A few people have asked me over the years," he said. 

"Bubba Watson hounded me for years to come play this with him and I politely declined every time."

McIlroy said it had nothing to do with not liking Watson before Lowry chimed in: "Rory is probably like No. 1 on people's lists to come play here with."

So why did McIlroy decide 2024 was the year to make his long-awaited appearance?

Shane Lowry
Shane Lowry

"I just thought it would be fun to do, going and playing here with a friend and enjoying a week in New Orleans," he said. 

"And going to eat some good food at night and trying to play some good golf during the day. I thought it would be a fun week."

How does Lowry rate their chances? 

"I think we're good for each other," he said.  

"I think we'll be good for each other on the course. We'll enjoy doing it, which is a big part of it, as well. 

"Whenever we're out there and competing, you want to enjoy it, as well. 

"At the end of the day when it comes to it, we are competitors, and I think we're two very competitive people, and when we get to the first tee on Thursday, we're there for one reason, and yes, it'll be to enjoy it, but it'll be to give ourselves a chance to win the tournament."

Added McIlroy: "I'm excited to be in a new place. As I said before, we spend our whole lives going back to the same cities, the same golf courses and the same routines, so to do something a little different is nice."

Elsewhere, McIlroy has confirmed he is poised to return to the PGA Tour's policy board. 

The golfer quit the role five months ago, seemingly wanting to distance himself from the off-course bickering with LIV Golf

But it appears he has been asked to return by those involved in the negotiations. 

McIlroy said he will return if he is 'wanted'.

He said there appears to be a stalemate between the North American circuit and their nosy rival.

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