Speaking at the BMW PGA Championship, where 18 members of the LIV will participate alongside some of the top players on the DP World Tour, McIlroy took some finer shots at the LIV but said he didn’t take any rounds at the start of the week with players at Wentworth.
Last month, after winning the FedExCup Championship on the PGA Tour, McIlroy said it was “hard to bear” for more than a dozen LIV players to compete in the main event of the DP World Tour. But he said the energy at the site, so far, has not been hostile or toxic.
“That’s what it is,” he said. “They’re here. They play championship golf. My opinion is that they shouldn’t be here, but again, that’s just my opinion.”
“But we’re all going to go play 72 holes, which is new for them at this point, and then we’ll go from there.”
That wasn’t all McIlroy had to say on the matter.
McIlroy was asked if he would be able to maintain relationships with Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia, longtime Ryder Cup teammates who supported their new chiefs at Live Golf and publicly criticized the European Tour.
Poulter and Garcia were among the LIV players who asked questions at Tuesday’s players meeting at the BMW PGA, but McIlroy decided not to attend after being closely involved in touring matters over the past year and a half.
“It wasn’t really a situation where I wanted to make myself know who would be in that room,” he said. “So I removed myself from it and left them to hash it.”
Keith Bailey, chief executive of the DP World Tour, said on Wednesday that the meeting – which was presented as potentially controversial – was “too short” and that questions from the LIV players had been answered. Without specifically naming the players, Bailey also expressed disappointment that some old European Tour members had publicly criticized a tour that “gave you a platform to build your career”.
Keith Bailey is Mama on the details of the meeting, but she addresses the ‘LIV propaganda machine’
Instead, Bailey cited the example of Louis Oosthuizen, who called the president of the DP World Tour that he was leaving for LIV Golf and “hasn’t said a word against us in public since. He’s a gentleman, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
“But others haven’t behaved this way, and this is my biggest personal disappointment over the past few months,” Bailey continued.
These players came to Wentworth in the first week of qualifying for the 2023 Ryder Cup. It is currently unclear whether LIV players will be allowed to participate in upcoming matches.
“I wouldn’t say I have a lot of relationships with them right now,” McIlroy said when asked specifically about Westwood, Poulter and Garcia. “But if you’re only talking about the Ryder Cup, for example, that’s not the future of the Ryder Cup team.”
McIlroy noted the impact of the enhanced strategic alliance between the PGA and the DP World Tours, which will see the top 10 players in the season-long Race to Dubai standings earn Tour cards.
Like, this is the future of the Ryder Cup – Hojgaards, Bobby [MacIntyre]No one else is coming. They are the future of the Ryder Cup team,” McIlroy said. “That’s what we should be thinking about and talking about.”
A reporter continued, but isn’t it sad that those personal relationships have soured?
“Yes, but I didn’t do anything different,” McIlroy said. They are the ones who made this decision. So I can sit here and keep my head up and say I haven’t done anything differently.”
Unloading the tension surrounding the BMW PGA Championship
The PGA Tour has indefinitely suspended players who have left for LIV Golf. The DP World Tour has different rules and regulations, and a lawsuit, scheduled for February 2023, will determine the competitive fate of these members. McIlroy was asked if he saw a way to get back LIV players who wanted to go back to the designated rounds.
“They can always go through Q-School, yeah,” he said.
McIlroy plays three of the next four weeks on the DP World Tour, including the Italian Open next week and Dunhill Links at the end of the month. He currently leads the race standings to Dubai, and could become the second player to win the biggest prizes for both rounds in the same season.
At the end of his press conference, a reporter asked McIlroy if there would be added incentive to win if he found himself in a fight for the BMW PGA title with a LIV member.
He couldn’t resist the last dig.
“I’m going to try to win a golf tournament regardless,” he said. “They will be very tired on Sunday – it will be day four.
“But no, look, I will try to win a golf championship regardless. My focus is that I am in a great position in the race to Dubai and I want to finish the season well, because I think it will be a really great double.”