'The ball is in their court' – McIlroy calls on LIV Golf players to fix divide with PGA Tour

By Sports Desk September 28, 2022

Rory McIlroy has called for players from the LIV Golf Invitational Series to step up to fix the bitter divide impacting the sport, declaring: "The ball is in their court."

McIlroy has been a steadfast critic of the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed circuit, which counts the likes of Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Bryson DeChambeau among its ranks. 

The FedEx Cup champion declared his "hatred" for the breakaway circuit last month, and recently said LIV players should be excluded from next year's Ryder Cup.

Speaking to BBC Sport on Wednesday, McIlroy said it was up to LIV's players to assume a leading role in repairing relations with those who remained loyal to the PGA.

"I would just say the ball is in their court," McIlroy said. "If they want to come to the table and try to play nicely within the sandbox that's already created, the opportunity is there."

Eleven LIV players initially supported an antitrust lawsuit filed against the PGA Tour, accusing it of operating as a monopoly and alleging the suspension of players joining the new circuit was improper.

However, eight of those players have since withdrawn, with Mickelson doing so on Tuesday. 

While McIlroy believes a resolution to golf's bitter civil war is possible, he said those legal proceedings currently make reconciliation difficult.

"Right now with two lawsuits going on, and how heightened the rhetoric has been, I think we just need to let it cool off a little bit," McIlory added.

"I don't know what's going to happen with this lawsuit. No one's going to want to talk to anyone when it's hanging over the game, so I don't know what happens there.

"I've probably said a few things that are maybe too inflammatory at times, but it just comes from the heart and how much I hate what this is doing to the game.

"It has been an ugly year but there's a solution to everything. If we can send rockets to the moon and bring them back again and have them land on their own I'm sure we can figure out how to make professional golf cohesive again."

However, as LIV Golf continues to lobby the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) for the ability to grant rankings points, McIlroy said the circuit's players will only have themselves to blame if they miss out on qualifying for majors.

"The only ones that are prohibiting them from getting world rankings points are themselves," McIlroy said.

"It's not as if [the OWGR] created this criteria out of thin air a few months ago to try to prevent LIV from getting points.

"I think if they were to pivot, have cuts, have a minimum field of 75, have more of a merit-based system where there's a meritocracy for how to get on the tour...

"There's a bunch of stuff where they don't meet the criteria yet, but if they were to change and meet all those points then there's obviously no reason not to give them world ranking points.

"I'm certainly not for banning them from majors, but with the way the world rankings are now, if someone that hasn't won the Masters before can't garner enough world ranking points to be eligible, then I think that's entirely on them.

"They knew the risks going in, and actions have consequences. That was a risk that they were paid for, ultimately. 

"If some of these guys that don't have exemptions in the majors don't qualify for them, I have no problem with that because they knew that going in."

Related items

  • Lawrence battles back to win South African Open Championship on home soil Lawrence battles back to win South African Open Championship on home soil

    Home favourite Thriston Lawrence fought back to win the South African Open Championship despite surrendering a five-shot lead with two holes remaining in Sunday's final round.

    Lawrence began Sunday with a two-shot advantage at 18-under-par, with Clement Sordet hot on his heels after carding consecutive rounds of 66.

    The South African looked to be cruising after moving five shots clear of the Frenchman on the 10th hole, but had to wait until the penultimate hole to secure the win after a series of slip-ups.

    Sordet drew level with his rival before dropping a shot by missing a short putt on the 17th, allowing Lawrence to seal the title despite missing the green off the tee in a tense finish.

    Lawrence's relief was clear when he spoke after the win, saying: "It's not over until the fat lady sings and I got a little conservative over the closing stretch and it cost me. I managed to hang in there. 

    "It's what you strive for and play for every day. Being a kid you dream of this moment. I'm just so pleased, words can't describe it."

    The victory represents Lawrence's third on the European Tour, with the 26-year-old having followed up 2021's Joburg Open win by claiming the Omega European Masters title in August.

    Jens Fahrbring finished one shot behind Sordet in third, with Matti Schmid three shots further back in fourth. 

  • Meronk ousts Scott to win Australian Open Meronk ousts Scott to win Australian Open

    Adrian Meronk overhauled Adam Scott to win his second DP World Tour title in five months with victory at the Australian Open.

    Meronk trailed Scott by a shot going into the final round at Victoria Golf Course.

    But the Pole, who won the Irish Open in July, was superb for the third successive round in Melbourne, his four-under 66 propelling him to triumph.

    He made the turn three under for the round and on the back nine bogeys at 13 and 17 were sandwiched by a birdie at 15.

    Meronk finished it in style with a stunning eagle putt from the edge of the green that saw him finish 14 under for the tournament.

    Scott, who could only manage a level-par 72, was five shots back at nine under.

    "To finish like that on the 18th hole, it's unreal," said Meronk. 

    "[I] kept doing what I done last two days and just worked pretty well so I'm just super proud of me, proud of my team."

  • LIV chief Norman says he 'pays zero attention to McIlroy and Woods' LIV chief Norman says he 'pays zero attention to McIlroy and Woods'

    Greg Norman says he pays "zero attention" to Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy after they called for him to be ousted as LIV Golf CEO and commissioner.

    Woods this week echoed McIlroy's sentiments that Norman "has to go" in order for the PGA Tour and breakaway series LIV Golf to hold constructive talks, with the two organisations having filed lawsuits against each other.

    The legendary American stated: "There is an opportunity out there if both organisations put a stay on their litigation. That's the problem.

    "There is no willingness to negotiate if you have litigation against you. I think Greg has to go first of all. It has to start with leadership on their side, understanding that what is happening right now is not the best future for the whole game of golf.

    "You need to have the two bodies come together and if one side has so much animosity, trying to destroy our tour, then how do you work with that?"

    World number one McIlroy said last month: "I think he [Norman] just needs to exit stage left. He's made his mark but I think now is the right time to sort of say, look, you've got this thing off the ground but no one is going to talk unless there's an adult in the room that can actually try to mend fences."

    Yet Australian Norman is adamant he will be going nowhere.

    "I pay zero attention to McIlroy and Woods, right?" he told Today's Golfer. "They have their agenda for whatever reason. They're saying whatever they want to say.

    "It has no bearing or effect on me. I'm going to be with LIV for a long, long period of time."

    Norman says he can heal the rifts and is doing a good job.

    He said: "Of course it can happen under my leadership. I mean, Tiger might be a messenger, right? Who knows. All I know is we are going to keep doing what we're doing with LIV, and we are just going to keep moving forward."

    Norman added: "No matter where I go in the world, nobody - not one person - has said what I'm doing is stupid or wrong."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.