Dustin Johnson sunk a long-range eagle putt on the first playoff hole in LIV Golf history to secure a victory in Boston on Sunday, defeating Anirban Lahiri and Joaquin Niemann on the extra hole.

Lahiri had the best third round of the playoff participants, posting a six-under 64 to work his way to 15 under, while Johnson shot 65 and Neimann a 66. Neimann came into the day one stroke off Talor Gooch's lead, while Johnson was alone in third place one further back.

In the playoff, which took place on the par-five 18th hole, Lahiri sailed over the back of the green, and Niemann found a fairway bunker, leaving Johnson as the only player to make the green in three and leave himself an eagle putt.

The two-time major winner made sure a second playoff hole was not necessary, bashing in the eagle, which would have sailed at least 10 feet past the hole if it did not hit it dead in the middle.

As well as the $4million prize for winning the event, Johnson and each of his 4 Aces GC teammates – Gooch (13 under), Pat Perez (seven under) and Patrick Reed (three under) –will also take home an extra $750,000 for topping the team standings for the third tournament in a row

It was a packed leaderboard down the home stretch, with Lee Westwood and LIV debutant Cameron Smith also holding a share of the lead with two holes remaining, before late bogeys took them out of the playoff and into a tie for fourth at 14 under.

Gooch, after entering the round in the outright lead, could only muster a one-under 69 as he watched the field race past him on a day with friendly scoring conditions.

Jason Kokrak finished seventh at 12 under, Mexico's Abraham Ancer was alone in eighth at 11 under, and rounding out the top-10 was a three-man tie for ninth at 10 under consisting of Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen and Sergio Garcia.

Phil Mickelson finished tied for 40th at two over, and the last-placed Sihwan Kim will take home $120,000 after finishing 16 over, posting rounds of 87, 63 and 76.

Paul McGinley says it "breaks my heart" to see a number of his close friends and former Ryder Cup team-mates join the controversial LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Golf has been divided over the past six months by the arrival of the Saudi-backed breakaway, which has seen a number of high-profile names defect from the PGA Tour.

Six more players were announced by LIV Golf this week, including reigning Open champion Cameron Smith, ahead of the series' latest big-money event in Boston.

The PGA Tour has banned those competing in LIV Golf from taking part in any of their competitions, though that is subject to another legal challenge.

The DP World Tour was unsuccessful in doing so, meanwhile, and 18 LIV players will compete in the PGA Championship at Wentworth next week.

That includes the likes of Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter, each of whom McGinley has previously teamed up with for Ryder Cup duty.

McGinley finds the rift difficult to accept and claims that no player on the DP World Tour wants the LIV golfers involved at Wentworth.

"It breaks my heart because I have an emotional connection with every one of those players," he told The Sunday Times.

"I will see Poulter and I'll shake his hand at Wentworth, the same with Westwood and all of those guys that I shared team rooms with. That bond will never be broken.

"But we're definitely on different sides now. And it's really sad that it has come to this. Every one of those players knew the consequences when they signed with LIV. 

"They also knew there was the potential for the Ryder Cup to be collateral damage in all of this. They still think they can play in the Ryder Cup. 

"Who knows what's going to happen in six months' time? I think, at this stage, it's highly unlikely that any of them will be involved in the Ryder Cup again.

"If this is how it pans out, it won't be because of [DP World Tour chief executive] Keith Pelley or the board say so.

"It's because our members, the players who have remained loyal to our tour, don't want the LIV guys anywhere near the Ryder Cup. 

"The feeling is that you cannot play [for] both sides. Mo Salah doesn't get to play for Liverpool one week and Real Madrid the next. LIV is a rival tour."

Two-time major winner Dustin Johnson stormed up the leaderboard in the second round of LIV Golf Boston but Talor Gooch remains on top one stroke ahead of tour newcomer Joaquin Niemann.

Johnson responded from his opening-day 67 with a seven-under-par round of 63 to move within two strokes of the lead on Saturday at The Oaks.

The 38-year-old American's stand-out day included eight birdies and an eagle on the par-five eighth hole, along with three birdies. Johnson had claimed the outright lead with three holes to play before Gooch regained it.

Gooch, who shared the lead with Matthew Wolff after the first day on Friday, remains on top at 12-under, with Niemann one shot behind and Johnson's round moving him up to 10-under.

Wolff slipped four strokes off the pace after carding 69 for the day, while tour newcomer Cameron Smith also dropped back with a one-under-par round of 69.

Anirban Lahiri is outright fourth at nine-under, with Jason Kokrak carding a five-under-par 65 to move into equal fifth with Bernd Wiesberger and Wolff at eight-under overall.

Johnson's surge along with Gooch's excellent two days means Four Aces GC are top of the standings in the team element at 22-under.

Hy Flyers GC, captained by Phil Mickelson, are second at 19-under led by Wiesberger and Wolff. Mickelson is back at three-over overall ahead of Sunday's final round.

Big new signings hit the ground running in the first round of LIV Golf Boston, but after 18 holes at The International Golf Club it is Matthew Wolff and Talor Gooch tied for the lead at seven under.

While Gooch got to his 63 in a traditional fashion, posting eight birdies and one bogey, Wolff had far more ups and downs, making up for his three bogeys with six birdies, an eagle and a hole-in-one – the first ace in LIV Golf history.

One stroke behind the leaders are new arrivals Cameron Smith and Joaquin Neimann, after both played in last week's PGA Tour Championship.

Smith had five birdies and two eagles, showing off his firepower, but a double-bogey on the par-four 14th hole cost him a chance at the first-round lead.

After his round, Smith called it "great fun" and said "it was nice to see a familiar face" about his pairing with Dustin Johnson.

The rest of the field is at least two further strokes back, with Kevin Na, Bernd Wiesberger, Louis Oosthuizen, Paul Casey and Anirban Lahiri occupying the tie for fifth at four under.

The logjam at three under includes Dustin Johnson and Pat Perez, who along with Gooch and Patrick Reed (one under) have their Four Aces GC sitting second in the team standings. They trail only Hy Flyers GC, consisting of Wolff, Wiesberger, Cameron Tringale (one over) and Phil Mickelson (four over, 45th out of 48).

Bryson DeChambeau and Carlos Ortiz are at one under, and the Koepka brothers – Brooks and Chase – shot even-par 70s.

Sergio Garcia is adamant LIV Golf "is the future" for the sport as the PGA Tour fights to keep its stars out of the clutches of the lucrative Saudi-backed circuit.

It remains to be seen whether players signed up to the new series are kissing goodbye to playing the majors, which would be diminished by the absence of stars such as Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and new defector Cameron Smith.

The PGA Tour has banned those players from its events for now, though they are still allowed to participate on the DP World Tour – previously known as the European Tour – whose sanctions have been put on hold until a hearing is heard early next year.

Ahead of this weekend's Boston leg of LIV Golf, Garcia told Stats Perform he had no regrets about committing to the controversial series, with the 42-year-old having been one of the first to sign up.

"Yeah, I love it. I think it's great. I think it's getting more and more momentum," the Spaniard said.

"I think that everyone is really enjoying the format and the way we're playing. We all believe that is the future of golf, keeping it fresher, even quicker and all the things that people are asking for. We're very excited about it."

There is a team element as well as individual honours at stake, while each event has so far been contested over 54 holes, rather than 72 as has long been the custom in the men's game. Players are joining on huge signing-on fees, while the level of tournament prize money is also proving appealing.

Saudi Arabia's often-criticised human rights record has led to accusations that LIV Golf is an attempt at 'sportswashing', looking to improve the reputation of a country by investing heavily in a glitzy event featuring widely admired international stars.

Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion, insists he has no problem with where the money behind the series originates.

"I think that a lot of people make business with Saudi Arabia and the government is fine. So there's nothing to do there," Garcia said.

"LIV Golf is international  Even this year, with just eight tournaments, we're playing some abroad. Next year coming up, there's going to be a lot more tournaments worldwide. So it definitely is [international]."

Paul Casey, an Englishman who won three PGA Tour titles and added 15 tournament wins on the European Tour, is another who has accepted a big cheque to join LIV Golf.

"I saw the first two events before my first event at Bedminster," Casey said.

He told Stats Perform he was impressed by "the energy", "the youngness of the crowd" and the "passion and excitement for everybody involved".

"This is like a start-up. This is something different," Casey said.

The likes of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have insisted they will not be swayed by the huge sums on offer by LIV Golf, standing steadfastly by the PGA Tour and insisting it is that established circuit that is committed to golf's best interests.

McIlroy, who has played on Ryder Cup teams with Garcia and Casey, spoke recently of his opposition to LIV Golf, saying: "I hate what it's doing to the game of golf."

LIV is pumping enormous funds into the Asian Tour, too, with a host of LIV Golf players set to take part in that circuit's International Series.

Casey said: "A lot is always talked about growth of the game and stuff, and that is still an area where there is massive potential. There's been great growth in the game all over, but there's massive potential on the international front and I think the guys who are out here understand that and they're embracing it, and we'll see.

"I mean, I've always enjoyed playing international golf and enjoy playing golf certainly in Asia. And I'm looking forward to being in Bangkok, in Jeddah.

"There's rumours about maybe Australia or something like that as well coming back for us. So that's going to be pretty cool."

Cameron Smith said he retains hope of featuring at the majors despite joining LIV Golf, as he labelled the lack of world ranking points on offer on the breakaway tour "unfair".

Smith, the current world number two, became the highest-ranked player to join the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed circuit on Tuesday, when he was announced as one of six new players ahead of this week's event in Boston.

The Australian, who clinched his first major title when winning the Open at St Andrews in July, joined compatriot Marc Leishman, as well as Joaquin Niemann, Cameron Tringale, Harold Varner III and Anirban Lahiri in signing up to the Greg Norman-headed tour.

Having reportedly agreed a deal worth over $100million to sign for the LIV Series, a decision which will earn him an indefinite suspension from the PGA Tour, Smith believes barring the circuit's players from majors is unfair on fans. 

"I hope that these world ranking points will sort themselves out before my exemption is up. I think to the fans of major championship golf, it may be a little bit unfair on them," Smith said.

"I think, you know, majors are about having the best guys in the best field on the best golf courses and hopefully we can sort that out.

"I haven't resigned my membership on the PGA Tour. I think my life has definitely changed over the last couple of months after the Open, I've had a few phone calls with players. 

"It has been a little bit different, but this, for me, was the right decision. I think this is the future of golf. I think it's been the same for a very, very long time and needs to be stirred up a little bit."

Aged 29 and ranked second in the world, the signing of Smith arguably represents one of the greatest coups managed by LIV to date, and he is hopeful the new circuit will soon be able to award rankings points.

"I think it's really a shame that we're not getting world ranking points out here," he added.

"I think, you know, to have 48 of the best guys around the world playing and not to get world ranking points, I think is perhaps a little bit unfair."

Meanwhile, Smith admitted upon joining LIV that the circuit had made him "an offer I couldn't ignore", but says being able to enjoy more time at home and play in his own country were also key motivations.

"Yes, it was a business decision as well. But you know, there's so many positives to come out of this thing," Smith said.

"For me, I haven't been back in Australia for three years. To spend more time at home, you know, not miss it out on friends' and family's weddings and you know, a couple of my friends have had kids over the last four or five years that I still haven't met. So that's going to be a part of my life that I can't wait to get back."

Asked whether there was anything the PGA Tour could have done to prevent his switch, Smith added: "Not particularly, to be honest. I think for me the biggest attraction was spending more time at home, getting that part of my life back. 

"It's something that I've really missed. I think obviously the pandemic that we've had over the last couple of years didn't really help out."

It was hardly the start Rory McIlroy had envisioned.

His opening drive on Thursday at the Tour Championship careened over the boundary fence and out of bounds, eventually leading to a triple bogey. Making matters worse, a bogey followed at the second, and suddenly, McIlroy was a distant 10 strokes behind the FedEx Cup leader, Scottie Scheffler.

The gritty Northern Irishman must be a glass-half-full kind of guy, though, and McIlroy wasn't about to let the stumble dictate the direction he would take in the Playoff finale at historic East Lake Golf Club.

Indeed, he fought back on Thursday, shooting a back-nine 31 and finishing with a 67 to stay in the mix and by Sunday McIlroy had worked his way into the final group with Scheffler, albeit six shots in arrears.

The battle between the world number one and the third-ranked McIlroy for the PGA Tour's biggest prize on a sun-drenched afternoon didn’t disappoint, either. It was, as McIlroy would later say, a "spectacle", as entertaining a match as they come.

As McIlroy doggedly pushed forward on Sunday, Scheffler, a four-time winner this season, began to flounder. McIlroy tied for the lead with an improbable 31-footer at the 15th hole and took sole possession at the next when the Texan couldn't get up-and-down from a greenside bunker.

Two scrambling pars later and McIlroy became the first three-time winner of the FedEx Cup, earning $18million in the process. He closed with a 66 and finished at 21-under while Scheffler shot 73, making just one birdie all day, and tied for second with Sungjae Im.

McIlroy was nothing if not magnanimous in victory. He hugged Scheffler's parents and wife, who were standing near the scoring area, telling them their man deserved the title, too. Then he said as much on television as he was interviewed by NBC's Mike Tirico.

"What a week, what a day," McIlroy said as he gripped the gleaming silver Tiffany trophy tightly. "I feel like Scottie deserves at least half of this today. He has had an unbelievable season. I feel sort of bad that I pipped him to the post, but he's a hell of a competitor. He's an even better guy.

"It was an honor and a privilege to battle with him today, and I'm sure we'll have many more. I told him we're 1-1 in Georgia today: He got The Masters; I got this."

The dichotomy of the way he started the tournament and the way he finished was not lost on McIlroy, either. He couldn't help but remember the resiliency shown just four weeks earlier when Tom Kim started the Wyndham Championship with a quadruple bogey to fall 13 shots off the pace before going on to win.

"I guess it just shows you anything's possible, even when you're a few behind or a few in front in the tournament," McIlroy said. "Anything can happen. I'm going to remember this week mostly for that. Your mind can go one of two ways when you start like that, and automatically I thought about Tom Kim at Greensboro.

"I could have easily thought the other way and thought, I've got no chance now; what am I doing here? But I just sort of, I guess, proved that I was in a really good mindset for the week, and I didn't let it get to me too much and just stuck my head down and got to work."

The 2021-22 season was another standout one for McIlroy, whose third victory of the year brings his career total on Tour to 22. He's still looking for his fifth major championship – and first since 2014 – but the consistency of four top 10s, including second at The Masters and third at The Open Championship, has to be heartening.

McIlroy likened this season to his 2019 campaign, when he won The Players Championship and RBC Canadian Open before beating Brooks Koepka, then the top-ranked player in the world, at East Lake. And not even McIlroy's good friend Tiger Woods has won three FedEx Cup crowns.

"I played great golf. I had some good wins but didn't pick off a major, but I felt like Harry [Diamond, his caddie] said it to me on the 18th green today. He goes, all the good golf you played this year, you deserve this," McIlroy explained.

"Look, it's really cool to do something in golf that no one has ever done before. Obviously, the history of the FedEx Cup isn't as long as the history of some other tournaments, but to be walking out of here three times a champion, it's very, very satisfying and something that I'm incredibly proud of."

In some ways, and with all due respect to Scheffler, McIlroy was the perfect winner at East Lake. He and Woods were at the heart of a players-only meeting at the BMW Championship that was the catalyst for some of the sweeping changes that PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced in Atlanta a day before the Playoff finale began.

Those changes include additional elevated events for 2023 that will feature purses of at least $20m and are designed to bring the game’s top players together 20 times a year. McIlroy is a member of the PGA Tour Policy Board and has emerged as its most ardent spokesman.

"Look, it's been a tumultuous time for the world of men's professional golf in particular,” he said. "I've been in the thick of things. I guess every chance I get, I'm trying to defend what I feel is the best place to play elite professional golf in the world.

"It's in some ways fitting that I was able to get this done today to sort of round off a year that has been very, very challenging and different."

As eye-popping as the money on offer at the Tour Championship was, as well as what will be offered at the elevated events in the future is, though, McIlroy will be the first to say it’s the competition that fuels him. Not dollar signs.

"There's a lot of cool things that come along with winning the FedEx Cup," McIlroy said. "The trophy, I have three sterling silver Calamity Jane replicas in my house, which is really cool. To think about here at East Lake and Bobby Jones, the greatest amateur player to ever play the game, the sort of history and traditions of the game of golf. He sort of exemplified all that.

"Look, the money is the money. It's great, and we are professional golfers, we play golf for a living. That is a part of it. But I think at this point in my career, the winning and the journey and the emotions and who I do it with mean more than the check."

Australian Cameron Smith said joining LIV Golf was a "business decision" that will also enable him to spend more time in his homeland.

The Open champion was on Tuesday among six new recruits announced by the Saudi-backed breakaway tour and will make his debut in Boston this week.

Smith is reported to have agreed a deal worth over $100million to turn his back on the PGA Tour and sign up for LIV.

The world number two admitted he was lured by a huge payday, but the money was not the only aspect that appealed to him.

He told Golf Digest: “[Money] was definitely a factor in making that decision, I won't ignore that or say that wasn't a reason.

"It was obviously a business decision for one and an offer I couldn't ignore."

America-based Smith added: "I've lived over here seven years now, and I love living in the US, but just little things like missing friends' weddings, birthday parties and seeing your mates having a great time at rugby league games has been tough.

"The biggest thing for me joining is [LIV's] schedule is really appealing. I'll be able to spend more time at home in Australia and maybe have an event down there, as well. I haven't been able to do that, and to get that part of my life back was really appealing."

Smith's compatriot Marc Leishman, along with Joaquin Niemann, Harold Varner III, Cameron Tringale and Anirban Lahiri, will also make their LIV Golf debuts in Boston, in the three-day tournament that starts on Friday.

Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson will also make his LIV bow this week as a non-playing captain.

Cameron Smith has been announced as one of the latest players to sign with LIV Golf.

The world number two has been linked with the controversial Saudi-backed series for a while, and was finally confirmed on Tuesday as one of six new players ahead of this week's event in Boston.

Smith, who won his first major, The Open, at St Andrews in July, becomes the highest-ranked player to join LIV Golf, led by fellow Australian Greg Norman.

LIV Golf also announced the additions of another Australian in Marc Leishman, as well as Joaquin Niemann, Cameron Tringale, Harold Varner III and Anirban Lahiri.

Rory McIlroy said making history is the reason he plays golf, as the world number three could not resist another jibe at the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

McIlroy claimed an unprecedented third FedEx Cup title on Sunday, edging out Scottie Scheffler in a play-off in the final round of the Tour Championship.

The 33-year-old has enjoyed a resurgence in 2022, despite missing out on major glory.

McIlroy has also become a de-facto spokesperson for the PGA Tour amid the divide caused by breakaway competition LIV Golf.

On his official Twitter account, McIlroy had one last swipe at LIV Golf, while outlining his motivation for playing the game.

"It's an absolute privilege to be a member of the PGA Tour, where I have the opportunity to battle players like Scottie in front of the most incredible fans," McIlroy tweeted.

"Having the chance to do something no one else has done by winning three FedEx Cup titles is why I play this game."

McIlroy has won three PGA Tour titles in the 2021-22 season and on Monday confirmed he will take part in the Italian Open next month.

He will aim to get in some early practice for the Ryder Cup, which takes place at the Marco Simone Golf and Country Club in 2023.

Rory McIlroy emphasised his opposition to the LIV Golf Series following his FedEx Cup victory on Sunday, saying he hates what it's doing to the sport.

McIlroy beat world number one Scottie Scheffler in a dramatic final round of the Tour Championship to become the first three-time winner of the FedEx Cup.

But given the 33-year-old has been among the most vocal opponents to the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf, attention quickly turned to the overall state of the sport after his success at East Lake.

He was happy to make his feelings clear.

"If you believe in something, I think you have to speak up, and I believe very strongly about this. I really do," he said at a press conference.

"I hate what it's doing to the game of golf. I hate it... It's going to be hard for me to stomach going to Wentworth [at the PGA Championship] in a couple of weeks' time and seeing 18 of them there. That just doesn't sit right with me.

"So yeah, I feel strongly. I believe what I'm saying are the right things, and I think when you believe that what you're saying is the right things, you're happy to stick your neck out on the line."

McIlroy was appointed as chair of the PGA Tour's Player Advisory Council in February 2021, and said it felt "fitting" to get the FedEx Cup win after finishing in the top eight of all four majors this year but not winning any.

"It’s been a tumultuous time for the world of men's professional golf in particular. I've been right in the middle of it. I've picked a great time to go on the PGA Tour board," he said.

"I've been in the thick of things. I guess every chance I get, I'm trying to defend what I feel is the best place to play elite professional golf in the world.

"It's in some ways fitting that I was able to get this done today to sort of round off a year that has been very, very challenging and different."

McIlroy came from six shots behind to pip Scheffler to the win on Sunday and had a simple message when asked why he thinks he thrives as a chaser.

"Because I think probably out of everyone in the field, I care the least about the money," he stated.

Rory McIlroy described his record-breaking third FedEx Cup victory as a "proud moment" for the PGA Tour amid the circuit's ongoing battle with the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

McIlroy saw off world number one Scottie Scheffler in a dramatic final round to triumph at the Tour Championship on Sunday, becoming the first three-time winner of the FedEx Cup.

The 33-year-old, who also claimed the title in 2016 and 2019, moved clear of two-time champion Tiger Woods, who was victorious in 2007 and 2009.

Away from the course, McIlroy has emerged as one of the most prominent critics of the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed LIV series, which is headed up by Greg Norman and counts the likes of Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Sergio Garcia among its star-studded field. 

McIlroy chose to reaffirm his commitment to the PGA Tour after clinching a one-shot victory over Scheffler in Atlanta, saying:  "It means an awful lot. 

"I believe in the game of golf, I believe in this tour in particular, I believe in the players on this tour. 

"It's the greatest place in the world to play golf, and I've played all over the world. 

"This is an incredibly proud moment for me, but it should also be an incredibly proud moment for the PGA Tour. They've had some hard times this year, but we're getting through it. 

"That was a spectacle out there today – two of the best players in the world going head-to-head for the biggest prize on the PGA Tour. I hope everyone at home enjoyed that."

McIlroy, who began his final round at the PGA Tour's season finale six strokes off the lead, also acknowledged Scheffler's shortcomings turned the tide in his favour.

"I've been in the final group here three of the past five years, starting with Tiger in 2018 and that incredible scene. Then to get the better of Brooks [Koepka] in 2019 was awesome," he added.

"Another final group here – I didn't give myself much of a chance teeing off today – I thought, six behind, I thought it was going to be really tough to make up.

"My good play, and Scottie's not-so-great play, and it was a ball-game going into the back-nine."

It will be "odd" and "disappointing" to see LIV Golf Invitational Series players featuring at next month's BMW PGA Championship, Matt Fitzpatrick says.

Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed are among those who have made the switch to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf but still appear on the entry list for the tournament at Wentworth.

While the PGA Tour has banned defectors from its events, they are still allowed to participate on the DP World Tour, which lost a court case against players ahead of a full ruling.

This means vocal critics of LIV Golf, like Rory McIlroy, appearing alongside some of the controversial league's biggest names in direct competition.

U.S. Open champion Fitzpatrick will also be in action, and he will find it strange to see these players back in the field.

"It's going to be odd seeing certain people, obviously, at Wentworth," he said.

"That is going to be a bit weird, and obviously it's a little bit disappointing. But they won their little thing.

"But yeah, it's going to be interesting to see what happens. Obviously, they're [the DP World Tour] not quite in as strong a position as the PGA Tour are in terms of regulations.

"I guess we'll just have to see how it plays out."

Lee Westwood has hit out at the PGA Tour for copying the LIV Golf International Series format, suggesting it is hypocritical for the former Tour to bemoan the Saudi-backed breakaway competition.

Former world number one Westwood is among a host of high-profile defectors to the controversial league, alongside the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka.

The Open champion Cameron Smith is reportedly the next big-name LIV Golf signing, as the organisation headed by Greg Norman continues to attempt to encourage star golfers to defect.

The decision to join LIV Golf has come with repercussions, though, with all breakaway golfers banned from competing on the PGA Tour – a matter some players are taking up in a legal battle.

While questions remain over the decision of the defectors, the format of the competition remains a topic of discussion, with players expecting to play in less competitions but for greater prize money.

The PGA Tour responded by committing its top players to at least 20 PGA Tour events per year, with four elevated events bringing purses of at least $20million and the bonus pool doubling to $100m.

After announcing the changes to the schedule, Westwood suggested the PGA Tour is attempting to copy the LIV Golf blueprint.

"I laugh at what the PGA Tour players have come up with," he told Golf Digest. "It's just a copy of what LIV is doing. There are a lot of hypocrites out there. They all say LIV is 'not competitive.'

"They all point at the no-cut aspect of LIV and the 'short fields.' Now, funnily enough, they are proposing 20 events that look a lot like LIV.

"Hopefully, at some point they will all choke on their words. And hopefully, they will be held to account as we were in the early days."

As the PGA Tour continues to expand to compete with its new rivals, Westwood pinpointed the LIV Golf calendar as a key reason for his defection to the breakaway league.

"I'm looking forward to playing the LIV event in Miami at the end of October then not having to tee-up again until February," he said.

"I'll have four months off. At my age I can do some serious work in that time. I can get properly fit and come out leaner.

"I've just had a four-week break, three of those weeks I was on holiday. We have plans for later in the year and I’ll be able to spend more time with the family. It just gives me more options.

"Already I can say to people, 'these are the 14 weeks I'm playing next year.' And I can have some fun in the other 38."

Rory McIlroy has been among the more vocal critics of LIV Golf, but Westwood assures there has been no animosity among fellow professionals regardless of their allegiances.

"They have been asking questions mostly," he added. "They want to know what it is like at LIV.

"I think they all know how much I have supported the European Tour over the last 30 years. I doubt you'd find someone at my level who has supported it more. When I won in America in 1998, I stayed on the European Tour and turned down PGA Tour membership. When I won in 2010, I did the same.

"When I was world number one, I didn't go to America; I stayed on the European Tour. I stayed and played through COVID. Not many others did that.

"I've always loved the European Tour. Over my career, I've just dipped in and out of America."

Rory McIlroy believes the announced enhancements to the PGA Tour are "a great step in the right direction" as the battle with the LIV Golf Invitational Series rages on.

On Wednesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan introduced several changes to the Tour, with the key emphasis on bringing the leading players together more often.

The announcements came after Tiger Woods and other leading players met last week to discuss what the PGA Tour should do going forward.

LIV Golf has sent shockwaves through the sport with many high-profile players making the switch to the Saudi-backed tour, including Phil Mickelson, and the Open winner Cameron Smith is reportedly set to follow suit.

Other alterations announced included a commitment from top players to feature in at least 20 PGA Tour events per year, an expansion to the player impact program and the guarantee of minimum earnings for full Tour members.

Four elevated events with purses of at least $20million have been added, taking the schedule up to 12 such tournaments next season, and the top players have agreed to compete in all of them.

McIlroy was encouraged by the changes, telling reporters ahead of the Tour Championship: "I care deeply about our sport. I care about its history. I care about its legacy. I care about the integrity of the game. 

"We all sort of are our own little independent businesses and we sort of try to compete against each other, and I think this is the first time in a long time where we sort of all sat down and were like, let's try to be business partners.

"How can we all pull in the same direction here to benefit everyone and to help the entire TOUR and to help each other basically.

"Unfortunately, Tiger Woods doesn't play as much as he used to. Tiger Woods was the single biggest draw that the PGA Tour had, amongst other things. We have to recognise that.

"So for the 23 of us that were in that room last Tuesday, including Tiger, we all have to sit down [and ask], okay, what is the best thing for our Tour going forward?

"What can we do to help put forward the best product possible so that in 50 years' time the PGA Tour is still thriving and we can safeguard the future of the Tour? That was basically what last week was about.

"Obviously that has culminated in some of the announcements that have been made today [Wednesday]. I'm sure there will be some changes going forward, as well, but I think today was a great step in the right direction."

When questioned on how the changes would benefit the Tour, the four-time major winner replied: "If you're trying to sell a product to TV and to sponsors and to try to get as many eyeballs on professional golf as possible, you need to at least let people know what they're tuning in for.

"When I tune into a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, I expect to see Tom Brady throw a football. When I tune into a Formula 1 race, I expect to see Lewis Hamilton in a car.

"Sometimes what's happened on the PGA Tour is we all act independently and we sort of have our own schedules, and that means that we never really get together all that often.

"I think what came out of the meeting last week and what Jay just was up here announcing is the fact that we've all made a commitment to get together more often to make the product more compelling."

McIlroy also revealed he had spoken to Smith about his reported defection to LIV Golf.

"I had a conversation with Cameron Smith two days after the Open. Firstly, I wanted to congratulate him," McIlroy disclosed.

"But I would at least like people to make a decision that is completely informed and basically know this is what's coming down the pipeline. This is what you may be leaving behind.

"I just don't want people making decisions – hearing information from one side and not from another. So I think that's sort of been my whole thing this entire time.

"I've always said guys can do whatever they want. Guys can make a decision that they feel is best for themselves and their families. But I want guys to make decisions based on all of the facts."

 

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