Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas tear up the Saudi league, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, reaction

Multiple big winners Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas said on Wednesday the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series was “a disgrace” and “a disappointment” on Wednesday for fracturing the sport in its heyday.

Along with top-ranked Scottie Scheffler, the duo spoke at the US PGA Tour Canadian Open, which kicks off Thursday in LIV Golf’s first competitive event outside of London.

“It’s a shame that it fractures the game,” McIlroy said. “The professional game is the showcase of golf. If the general public doesn’t know who’s playing where and what tournament is happening this week and oh, they’re playing there and they’re not participating in those events, it gets so confusing.

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“Everything has to try to become more cohesive and I think it was on a pretty good trajectory until that happened.”

The upstart series, offering a combined total prize pool of $255m (A$355m) across its eight events, has attracted stars such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia.

Multiple reports on Wednesday indicated that big US winners Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau will join LIV Golf next month for its first US event.

In the meantime, the PGA said there would be consequences for those playing in England as the tour refused PGA players to participate in an event opposite this week’s stop at St. George’s. Par 70 Golf and Country Club in Toronto.

“It’s a disappointment,” said Thomas, an American who won his second PGA Championship last month.

Aussie makes US OPEN history | 03:06

“The decision is up to them, but I just wish it didn’t take away from the great storylines and the things that happen, on a tour that’s been around for a very long time and is in one of the best places I’ve ever had. he ever was. It’s just a shame these guys aren’t in it.

Five of the world’s top 10 are set to play the Canadian Open, which has been wiped out for the past two years due to Covid-19 concerns.

“I would say things here are unaffected,” Scheffler said. “We have the best players in the world. I can’t wait to face them. I don’t really know what’s going on there.

Eighth-ranked, four-time major winner McIlroy reiterated his support for the US PGA and warned that picks made just for the money tend not to work.

“It’s not something I want to be involved in,” he said. “There is nothing in my schedule, my life, my income or anything that I would change.

“Any decision you make in your life just for the money usually doesn’t end up in a good way.

“It’s a strange time in professional golf. We’ll just have to see how this season plays out and if any other guys decide to go in a different direction than the established tours and see what the consequences are.

– ‘I’m disappointed’ –

Thomas, ranked sixth, said he was disappointed with the players who chose the new circuit.

“I don’t hate DJ now. I don’t think he’s a bad guy. I’m not going to treat it any differently. He has the right to choose as he wants,” Thomas said.

“That doesn’t make him a bad person. Now I’m disappointed and wish he and others hadn’t, but it’s their decision.

The Australian duo are likely to return for the Aus Open | 01:12

McIlroy also wasn’t upset about the players who will be his rivals at next week’s US Open, with the US Golf Association saying on Tuesday that all LIV Golf players who qualified for the Open could play as scheduled.

“I certainly understand the guys who have been there. I understand what their goals and ambitions are,” McIlroy said.

“I certainly don’t hit anyone to go there. It’s their life. It is their decision. They can live it as they wish. But for me, I want to play on the PGA Tour against the best players in the world. »

Canadian Mackenzie Hughes was upset with LIV Golf’s timing of the Toronto event.

“It stinks,” Hughes said. “There really wouldn’t have been a good timing for that, but as a Canadian, yeah, it’s a little disappointing.

“I think most of the eyes will still be there. The upper part of this field is really awesome.

Michael C. Ford