PGA Tour ‘birded the first’ by winning FedEx Cup match, says McIlroy

Rory McIlroy considered Tuesday “a good day” for members of the PGA Tour as he felt the attempts by LIV Golf rebels to enter the FedEx Cup had made the dispute over the breakaway series “personal”.

A judge ruled ahead of the FedEx St. Jude Championship that LIV Golf players were ineligible to compete in the playoffs.

Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford had filed a restraining order to allow them to play this week’s tournament, while 11 LIV Golf stars put together an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour.

McIlroy, who said he was following the matter live on Tuesday, was pleased the trio had not been given access after leaving the Tour for the lucrative new Saudi-backed league.

“From my point of view, common sense prevailed and I thought it was the right decision,” McIlroy said.

“And now that it’s happened, I think it just lets us focus on the important things, which is the golf, and we can all move on and not have that sideshow going on for the next few weeks, which is nice.”

The four-time major winner, who finished third as Cameron Smith – reported to be the next LIV Golf signing – won The Open last month, was asked if the battle between the players on either tour had become “personal”.

“Yes – and that was when the lawsuit was filed last week or whenever,” McIlroy replied.

“What I would say [is that] I certainly have a little more respect for the guys who haven’t put their names on the jersey. Yeah, it’s become a little more personal because of that.”

And while he is pleased with the result on Tuesday, McIlroy knows there will be many more matches to come.

Explaining his view, the Northern Irishman said: “Guys are going to make their own decisions that they feel are best for them and that’s absolutely fine.

“I don’t begrudge anyone going over to play LIV or take guaranteed money. If that’s your prerogative and what you want to do, that’s totally fine.

“But I think that the resentment comes from, from the membership of this tour, is the fact that they want to try to come back here without consequences.

“Anyone who has read that PGA Tour handbook or followed the rules and regulations, it would feel very unfair to them.

“That’s the way it went and I think everybody who’s been following the rules was… It’s such a long way to go – it’s like you’ve birdied the first hole but you’ve still got 17 holes to go – but it was a good day for the Tour and for the majority of the membership yesterday.”

McIlroy has been prominent in his opposition to LIV Golf, and he revealed on Wednesday that he had received an offer from the Premier Golf League, but not from the latest threat to the PGA Tour.

The 33-year-old was therefore asked if he enjoyed the role of unofficial spokesperson for the PGA Tour.

“Not really,” McIlroy replied, but he feels his game has somehow benefited from being in the middle of a storm when he’s off the course.

“I don’t feel like it’s my job to be up here representing the Tour or being a spokesperson,” he said.

“It’s just kind of the role I’ve found myself in, especially when I get on the PGA Tour [policy] board this year. It was a great time to agree to do it…

“I’ve said this to a few people: I feel like when I get into the ropes, it’s like no one can get to me, and that’s really nice.

“So, it’s actually made the golf part of it a lot more fun. And I appreciate it a little bit more, because of everything else that’s going on.

“If anything, it’s probably helped my golf, just because I can get out there and I can’t think about it and compartmentalize everything and maybe enjoy competing a little bit more — or at least appreciate it a little bit more with everything else that happens on.”

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