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Rory McIlroy warns LIV Golf defectors over chasing ‘boatloads of cash’ with stance on series unchanged

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Ory McIlroy insists his views on LIV Golf remain unchanged as the divisive Saudi-funded invitational series prepares to debut in the UK.

LIV Golf will stage their first three-day, 54-hole event at the Centurion Club near St Albans from Thursday amid a backdrop of controversy and infighting that threatens to tear the sport apart.

Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Rickie Fowler are the latest stars rumored to be joining the lucrative breakaway tour, whose first event has a purse worth £20million.

Six-time major winner Phil Mickelson is also part of the 48-player field after taking a four-month break from the sport, along with other top names such as former world No1 Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Branden Grace, and Kevin Na.

2020 Masters champion and 2016 US Open winner Johnson is among the players to have officially resigned their PGA Tour membership in order to compete in the inaugural LIV Golf Series, with the PGA Tour having denied permission for its members to play amid suggestions of possible bans.

Players who resign from the PGA Tour are also ruled ineligible for the Ryder Cup, while it remains to be seen what long-term stance will be adopted by the four Major championships. The United States Golf Association (USGA) recently confirmed that players competing in the LIV Golf Series would still be able to take part at next week’s US Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Rory McIlroy has been a strong critic of LIV Golf and remains committed to the PGA Tour

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Rory McIlroy has been a strong critic of LIV Golf and remains committed to the PGA Tour

/ AP

McIlroy, who is preparing to defend his RBC Canadian Open title at St George’s in Toronto, has been a staunch critic of LIV Golf and has no plans to perform the sort of U-turn witnessed from other players in recent weeks, while he warned those taking part of the potential pitfalls of their “short-term thinking” motivated by “boatloads of cash”.

“I think my stance on it has been pretty clear from the start,” McIlroy said. “It’s not something that I want to participate in. I certainly understand the guys that went, I understand what their goals and ambitions are in their life.

“I’m certainly not knocking anyone for going. It’s their life, it’s their decision, they can live it the way they want to.

“But for me, I want to play on the PGA Tour against the best players in the world. I think for myself, speaking to a few people yesterday, one of the comments was any decision that you make in your life that’s purely for money, usually doesn’t end up going the right way.

“Obviously money is a deciding factor in a lot of things in this world, but if it’s purely for money it never seems to go the way you want it to.”

Drawing on his own early career experiences when McIlroy could earn more from an appearance fee than by actually winning a tournament, he added: “Where’s the incentive to go and play well? I felt flat. We all know why everyone’s playing in London this week, it’s boatloads of cash and it’s money up front and I get it. For some guys I totally get it.

“I think they’re thinking very short-term. Some of these guys are younger than me and have their whole careers ahead of them. That’s the thing I don’t get.

“Everyone has to do what’s right for themselves and who are we to say otherwise. I’m happy with what I’m doing and playing in a golf tournament and not just following all the drama on Twitter.”

McIlroy also lamented the impact that such a sizable rift will have on men’s golf and the confusion that will inevitably arise among fans from having rival tours.

“I think it’s a shame that it’s going to fracture the game,” he said. “The professional game is the shop window into golf. If the general public are confused about who is playing where and what tournament’s on this week and who is he, you know, ‘Oh, he plays there, OK, and he does n’t get into these events.’

“It just becomes so confusing. I think everything needs to try to become more cohesive and I think it was on a pretty good trajectory until this happened.”

Additional reporting by the Press Association.

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