Rory McIlroy hints there is chance he could join LIV Golf

By Sports Desk February 28, 2024

Rory McIlroy has suggested there is a chance he could leave the PGA Tour and join LIV Golf.

McIlroy took a strident position against the big-money Saudi venture, which tempted a host of top names with lavish paydays and disrupted the established order of the PGA and European Tours.

But the world number two – who even claimed last summer that he would “rather retire” than become a LIV rebel – has softened his stance in recent months as Europe Ryder Cup team-mates Jon Rahm and Tyrell Hatton have made the switch from the PGA Tour.

McIlroy’s former agent Chubby Chandler has claimed the Northern Irishman could make a shock move to LIV Golf – and the four-time major champion did not completely dismiss the idea ahead of the Cognizant Classic in Palm Beach Gardens.

Chandler put a potential switch at 10 per cent and, asked at a pre-tournament press conference whether he would put a percentage on him joining LIV Golf, McIlroy replied: “Somewhere in the middle maybe. Who knows?

“I think he’s writing a book, so there is that. I spoke to Chubby, I might have seen him in the Middle East at the start of the year.

“Never know. He might know a few things. Who knows?”

McIlroy began his 2024 campaign by finishing second to Tommy Fleetwood at the Dubai Invitational and then winning the Dubai Desert Classic for a record fourth time.

But it has not been plain sailing for the 34-year-old since returning to the PGA Tour this month.

McIlroy finished tied 66th at the rain-ruined AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and had a share for 24th at the Genesis Invitational.

“I feel like Pebble, the weather disrupted it and the courses were super soft,” said Florida resident McIlroy, who held off Tiger Woods at this event in 2012 to win and claim the world number one spot for the first time.

“I won the pro-am portion, so I guess it wasn’t all bad.

“And then Riv (Riviera Country Club) was pretty good. I made a mess of 15 and 16 on the first day but apart from that, I felt like I played some pretty good golf.

“I feel like my game is in pretty good shape. You know, it’s nice to stay at home this week and feel a little more I guess relaxed in the surroundings.”

On what he defines as a successful season, McIlroy, a 24-time PGA Tour winner, added: “I guess it comes down to wins and season-long titles and major championships.

“I can’t sit here and say that the last 10 seasons haven’t been successful because I haven’t won a major.

“But at the same time, I recognize that whenever all is said and done I’m going to be judged on those tournaments a lot.

“Hopefully among other things as well but, yeah, winning is always good. The more wins you can get the better.”

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    Scheffler carded a closing 68 at Augusta National to finish four shots ahead of Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg and has now won three of his last four events and finished runner-up in the other.

    The world number one’s thoughts immediately turned to getting home as soon as possible to his wife Meredith, who is pregnant with their first child, but he also intends to keep challenging for the game’s biggest titles.

    “I’m coming home, I’ll be home as quick as I can,” Scheffler said when asked if he had a message for his wife.

    “I wish I could soak this in a little bit more but all I can think about is getting home. It’s a very, very special time for both of us.

    “I can’t put into words what it means to win this tournament again and really can’t put into words what it’s going to be like to be a father for the first time.

    “I definitely will enjoy the birth of my first child, and my priorities will change very soon, so golf will be fourth in line, but I still love competing.

    “I don’t plan on taking my eye off the ball any time soon.”

    Aberg threatened to become the first player to win the Masters on their debut since 1979 when he held a share of the lead following a birdie on the ninth, only to run up a double bogey on the 11th after pulling his approach into the water.

    The 24-year-old responded superbly and birdied the 13th and 14th to keep the pressure on, only for Scheffler to pick up shots on the same holes.

    “I think there’s a lot of things that we did very well this week, especially today, because I came out and I was very nervous, obviously,” Aberg, who only turned professional 10 months ago, said.

    “I was shaking a little bit on the first tee. Those are all things that I really enjoy doing. We said that it’s a privilege to be able to hit all these shots out here, and it’s a privilege to be in this position.

    “Obviously we knew that hitting it in the water on 11 wasn’t ideal, but we also just kept playing. That’s what me and my caddie Joe [Skovron] and our team has been trying to work on. Just keep playing no matter what happens.

    “I think we did that very well and it just showed that we stuck to what we did, and it ended up being pretty okay anyways.

    “It shows we’re doing a lot of good stuff, and obviously, finishing well in the Masters is a dream come true. Just playing here has been such a privilege, and I’m super proud of myself and the team and all the work that we’re doing.”

  • Masters day four: Scottie Scheffler issues warning after Augusta win Masters day four: Scottie Scheffler issues warning after Augusta win

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    Scheffler carded a closing 68 at Augusta National to finish four shots ahead of Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg and has now won three of his last four events and finished runner-up in the other.

    The world number one’s thoughts immediately turned to getting home as soon as possible to his wife Meredith, who is pregnant with their first child, but he also intends to keep challenging for the game’s biggest titles.

    “I’m coming home; I’ll be home as quick as I can,” Scheffler said when asked if he had a message for his wife.

    “I wish I could soak this in a little bit more, but all I can think about is getting home. It’s a very, very special time for both of us.

    “I can’t put into words what it means to win this tournament again and really can’t put into words what it’s going to be like to be a father for the first time.

    “I definitely will enjoy the birth of my first child, and my priorities will change very soon, so golf will be fourth in line, but I still love competing.

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    Scheffler was tied for the lead with Collin Morikawa when he produced a brilliantly judged approach to the ninth to set up the second of three birdies in a row.

    Statistic of the day

    Top statistician Justin Ray highlights Scheffler’s superb form in 2024.

    Quote of the day

    “I’m coming home. I’ll be home as quick as I can” – Scheffler’s message to his wife Meredith, who is pregnant with the couple’s first child.

    Hardest hole

    For the first time all week, the 17th played as the hardest hole, a solitary birdie, 19 bogeys and three double bogeys leading to a scoring average of 4.40.

    Easiest hole

    The par-five second hole appeared to be played from a forward tee, and it was no surprise that it yielded four eagles, 27 birdies, and just four bogeys for a scoring average of 4.483.

    When is the next major?

    The 106th US PGA Championship will take place at Valhalla Golf Club, the scene of Rory McIlroy’s last major victory in 2014, from May 16-19.

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    Scottie Scheffler fully justified his status as pre-tournament favourite with a nerveless second Masters title in the space of three years at Augusta National.

    The world number one carded a closing 68 to finish 11 under par and four shots clear of Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg, with England’s Tommy Fleetwood, two-time major winner Collin Morikawa and Max Homa three strokes further back.

    Scheffler held his nerve as his rivals stumbled around Amen Corner and responded magnificently when Aberg kept the pressure on, the 24-year-old again demonstrating his enormous potential on his major debut.

    Aberg only turned professional in June last year, but quickly won on the DP World Tour, helped Europe regain the Ryder Cup in Rome – including a 9&7 win with Viktor Hovland over Scheffler and Brooks Koepka – and also tasted victory on the PGA Tour before the end of the season.

    Scheffler has been in equally brilliant form in 2024, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational by five shots and becoming the first player to secure back-to-back Players Championship titles seven days later.

    That meant the 27-year-old had been made favourite for the Masters at the the kind of odds previously only offered for peak-era Tiger Woods and he duly took a one-shot lead into the final round.

    A birdie on the third quickly doubled that advantage, but dropped shots on the fourth and seventh left Scheffler in a three-way tie for the lead with playing partner Morikawa and Aberg.

    Homa’s birdie on the eighth made it a four-way tie, but dramatic and decisive changes were just around the corner.

    Scheffler was inches away from spinning his approach to the ninth into the hole for an eagle and tapped in for the easiest of birdies, while Morikawa took two to escape from a greenside bunker to run up a double bogey.

    Scheffler also birdied the 10th and was gifted some welcome breathing space when Aberg pulled his second to the 11th into the water to card a costly double bogey, an error repeated minutes later by Morikawa.

    Scheffler failed to take full advantage as he also dropped a shot, but then saw another contender fall away as Homa was forced to take a penalty drop from bushes behind the 12th green.

    Aberg refused to throw in the towel and birdied the 13th and 14th to seemingly keep the pressure on, only for the unflappable Scheffler to birdie the same holes, his approach to the 14th spinning down to tap-in range.

    Another birdie on the 16th put the result beyond doubt and unlike in 2022, this time there would be no careless four putts on the 18th green.

    Woods had finished his round an hour before the final pairing of Scheffler and Morikawa teed off, his 100th round at the Masters beginning after enlisting the help of his son Charlie.

    Charlie was pictured seemingly giving his dad some swing tips on the practice range at Augusta National, advice even a 15-time major champion may have welcomed following a demoralising third round of 82.

    That was the 48-year-old’s worst score in the Masters by four shots and meant an early tee time on Sunday alongside Neal Shipley, the only amateur to make the cut.

    Woods started in style with a 360-yard drive on the par-five second to help set up a straightforward birdie, but ran up a triple bogey seven on the fifth and eventually signed for a 77 to finish last of the 60 players to make the cut.

    Woods had previously targeted playing one tournament a month this year, with the remaining majors – the US PGA, US Open and Open Championship – the obvious targets.

    “This is a golf course I knew going into it so I’ve got to do my homework going forward at Valhalla and Pinehurst and Troon, but that’s kind of the game-plan,” Woods said.

    “I heard there were some changes at the next couple of sites so I’ve got to get up there early and check them out.”

    Rory McIlroy carded a closing 73 to finish in a tie for 22nd on his 10th attempt to complete the career grand slam, with defending champion Jon Rahm a distant 45th following a final round of 76.

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