McIlroy’s latest olive branch to rebel golf league: Can’t we all just play nicely?

Rory McIlroy wants golf put back together again as quickly as possible, saying winning one of the PGA Tour’s signature events would feel cheapened because it didn’t have all the best players in the world.

 Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland (L) and Jon Rahm of Spain (R) during round 2 of the British Open Golf Championship in Hoylake, Britain, 21 July 2023.  EPA/ADAM VAUGHAN

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland (L) and Jon Rahm of Spain (R) during round 2 of the British Open Golf Championship in Hoylake, Britain, 21 July 2023. EPA/ADAM VAUGHAN

McIlroy also said he would be opposed to anything that stood in the way of players who had left the tour for the riches of LIV Golf and wanted to come back.

“I don’t think there should be a punishment,” McIlroy said at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

“I’ve changed my tune on that because I see where golf is and I see that having a diminished PGA Tour and having a diminished LIV Tour … is bad for both parties.

“The faster that we can all get back together and start to play, and start to have the strongest fields possible, is great for golf.”

Pebble Beach has a $US20 million ($A30 million) purse as one of the PGA Tour’s signature events – the same as for the individual play of LIV Golf when it begins its third year on Friday in Mexico.

LIV on Tuesday announced Tyrrell Hatton as the latest PGA Tour member to sign up with the Saudi event, having snagged Masters champion Jon Rahm two months ago.

McIlroy played in the Ryder Cup with both.

Pebble Beach has 45 of the top 50 golfers in the world – the other five are with LIV Golf, which does not qualify for world-ranking points – and is one of eight signature events with $20 million purses.

McIlroy was asked if a victory would feel cheapened without players such as Rahm and past Pebble Beach winner Dustin Johnson in the field.

“I’d like to win here and stand up with a trophy on the 18th green and know that I’ve beaten all of the best players in the world,” he said.

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McIlroy said he has been talking to Hatton over the last month after the Englishman started receiving offers from LIV.

“It got to the point where they negotiated and got to a place he was comfortable with. He has to do what he feels is right for him,” McIlroy said.

“I’m not going to stand in anyone’s way from making money … what they deem life-changing money.”

McIlroy was among the six players on the PGA Tour board who were involved in the negotiations with Saudi Arabia’s national wealth fund and a private equity group comprised mainly of American pro sports owners over a PGA-LIV merger.

He stepped down from the board in November, with Jordan Spieth selected to finish the final year of McIlroy’s term.

“I just didn’t feel like I could influence things the way I wanted to. I was just banging my head against the wall and it was time for me to step off and concentrate on my own stuff,” he said.

“This thing could have been over and done with months ago.

“For all of our sakes, the sooner that we … have a path forward, the better.”

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