New Zealand's Danny Lee won a dramatic four-way playoff at the LIV Golf Tucson as Sergio Garcia's Fireballs GC took out the team event by four strokes on Sunday.

The 32-year-old South Korea-born Lee, who turned professional in 2009 but only won once on the PGA Tour, held his nerve in the playoff to edge out Carlos Ortiz, Louis Oosthuizen and Brendan Steele.

Lee, in his second LIV Golf event, claimed victory in style in the third playoff hole with a putt from off the green on the 18th hole.

"The individual victory means a lot," Lee said. "I haven't won since 2015. I just felt like winning is just not my thing but today just changed that. It’s good to see I’m capable of playing some good golf."

Lee had spurned the chance to clinch victory a hole earlier when he missed a six-foot birdie putt after a brilliant approach.

The New Zealander was part of Kevin Na's Iron Heads GC, who finished third in the team rankings at 19 under, with Garcia's Fireballs winning at 25 under. Dustin Johnson's 4Aces were second at 21 under.

"I wasn’t even looking at the individual score all day," Lee added. "I was only asking about 'how is our team doing?'. That's the reason why Kevin [Na] called and that’s the reason I’m over here."

Oosthuizen had looked the favourite on the players' leaderboard down the bank nine but dropped shots, only to produce an incredible birdie on the final hole to force his way into the playoff.

Steele stayed in the hunt with a fine par save on the 16th after his approach slid off the green and into the rough. Ortiz surged into contention with a final day six-under round.

Marc Leishman came into the final round leading by two strokes, but posted a six-over 77 to tumble down the leaderboard into a tie for 13th.

Rory McIlroy missed the cut at The Players Championship on Saturday and pointed the finger at his off-course political workload, saying: "I'd love to get back to being a golfer."

The Northern Irishman, a talisman for the PGA Tour, has been a strong and vocal opponent of the LIV Golf series that has attracted a host of the world's leading players.

With LIV being a Saudi-backed series, questions have been asked about why players would sign up for a tour that critics consider an attempt at sportswashing due to that country's human rights record.

McIlroy has been working closely with top-level golf officials to improve the appeal of the US-based PGA Tour, with a revamped calendar for 2024 set to include eight additional no-cut tournaments, which it is hoped will prove attractive to anyone with wavering support.

Having an eye on the business side has affected his golf, though, the 33-year-old believes, and McIlroy bowed out at TPC Sawgrass after a delayed finish to the second round, which was affected by bad weather on Friday.

McIlroy agreed after his round when asked if it was fair to say the added responsibilities had taken their toll.

"Yeah, it is fair. I'd love to get back to being a golfer," he said. "It's been a busy couple of weeks, and honestly it's been a busy six or eight months.

"But as I said at the start of the week, everything has sort of been announced now, and the wheels have been put in motion, so it should obviously quieten down from here."

He followed an opening 76 with a 73 in round two, missing the cut by three shots at the flagship tour event.

McIlroy said his week had been "just very blah".

"You just have to be really on to play well here," he added. "If you're a little off, it definitely magnifies where you are off. It's a bit of an enigma. Some years I come here, and it feels easier than others. It's just a tricky golf course."

McIlroy said he would head to Augusta for "a couple of days" next week to familiarise himself with the Georgia course ahead of the Masters, which begins on April 6.

"I actually don't feel like I'm playing that badly at all," said the world number three. "A few miscues here and there, I putted it off the sixth green yesterday, and just stuff that was a little untidy here and there. But I hit the ball okay."

Canadian Adam Svensson held the 36-hole lead on nine under par after a 67, with American Scottie Scheffler second following a second-round 69, putting him two behind. Four players shared third on six under ahead of the third round getting under way: Ben Griffin, Min Woo Lee, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Collin Morikawa.

Players who joined LIV Golf should not be allowed to return to the PGA Tour upon the expiration of their contracts with the breakaway circuit, believes Matt Fitzpatrick.

The PGA Tour has suspended players who signed up for the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed competition since its launch last year.

Speaking ahead of The Players Championship, where holder Cameron Smith will be absent after defecting to LIV Golf, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said there was no pathway in place should a player wish to reverse such a switch.

U.S. Open champion Fitzpatrick does not believe the PGA Tour should welcome them back, telling Sky Sports News: "My personal view is that you can't have your cake and eat it.

"I would not let people come back if they had gone to LIV, I just wouldn't.

"Don't get me wrong, they could turn around and say, 'You can come and play LIV if you want', but I don't want to do that. I want to stay here and I want to play DP World Tour and PGA Tour.

"I think it is incredibly unfair for the PGA Tour to do that and I would be staggered if they did allow them [to come back]. 

"I think if you spoke to Tiger Woods then he would probably have the same stance, although I don't know what other guys would have.

"If you have left the Tour that you have been on for so long and done so well, then you have left for something you think is better, even if it maybe is not always greener."

Despite Fitzpatrick's strong views on the LIV circuit, he reiterated his belief that defecting players should be allowed to represent Europe at the Ryder Cup later this year.

"Obviously I have just said there about not letting them back on the PGA Tour or DP World Tour, I completely agree with that, but the Ryder Cup is a completely different case," he said.

"For me, I would want the 12 best players on the team. Hopefully I am one of those, to try and win. That is what the goal should be, to try and win, not to be nice about who should be playing, in my opinion."

The Floridian fairways and greens of Sawgrass are in a splendid state ahead of the Players Championship, but the same can hardly be said for professional golf as a whole.

Riven by conflict and division, the turbulence of the last year is reflected by who is absent this week. The defending champion, Cameron Smith, for starters.

A defector to LIV Golf, drawn in by a staggering signing-on fee of reportedly $100million, Smith traded his parking spot and right to practise at Sawgrass, his local course, for the Saudi bounty.

It would be difficult for anybody to turn down such riches, so rather than sit in judgement of the 29-year-old Australian it is a timely moment to look at where the sport finds itself, with the PGA Tour battling to retain talent.

Notorious LIV? Mo money, mo problems

Is the LIV tour really the black-hearted enemy to golf that some would portray it as? It obviously would say not, and its tour chiefs, headed by CEO Greg Norman, have mounted passionate defences of the splinter series that has put up huge sums to draw in many of the world's elite.

Golf can be a short-lived career for stars at the highest level, so young players may see an opportunity to make quick money and instantly set themselves up for life.

Those at the opposite end, who have made phenomenal money already but are perhaps seeing diminishing returns, have been handed opportunities to cash in on their big profiles for a late-career pay day. Look to the likes of Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood in this regard.

Would those in the middle be quite so tempted? The PGA Tour would hope they might show loyalty after being well served, so it will have particularly hurt to see the likes of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau make the leap across.

Norman has argued LIV is "unlocking potential", claiming in a News Nation interview in January that golf "has been stuck in a box for 53 years". 

Australian Norman also took criticism for declaring that "we've all made mistakes", when he defended the Saudi regime last year, responding to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The fact LIV is bankrolled by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) has sparked suggestions golf is being manipulated for sportswashing purposes, and those claims are not going away.

How has the PGA Tour responded?

When the weapon in a fight is money, you have to find more of it to keep the troops happy.

The PGA Tour has hiked up prize funds at eight key events this season. Among these is The Players, where it has leapt from $20m last year to a $25m purse this week.

That announcement came last June. As recently as last week, though, the PGA Tour confirmed it would introduce designated events with limited fields and no cuts from 2024, in what it hopes is a compelling move to fend off more LIV defections.

Tour commissioner Jay Monahan described the eight 'no-cut' events for 2024 as "can't-miss tournaments", with players able to earn places through the regular tour season.

LIV Golf reacted to the announcement by stating on Twitter: "Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Congratulations PGA Tour. Welcome to the future."

The PGA Tour insists there are striking differences, with the opportunity for players to earn spots through year-round competition, rather than being guaranteed a place week-in, week-out.

Tiger Woods has spoken of this being a "very turbulent" period for golf, but he remains committed to the PGA Tour, with the 47-year-old American said to have turned down an offer of around $700m to $800m.

Rory McIlroy is firmly opposed to LIV taking over, too, and the PGA Tour has kept a host of household names – the likes of Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay – while others have slipped away.

Looking at the no-cut events, McIlroy has said major sponsors "want a guarantee that the stars are there", and blue-chip investment will be essential if the PGA Tour is to keep raising prize pots.

"If that's what needs to happen, then that's what happens," the Northern Irishman added.

What next? Will others jump ship?

The LIV tour has expanded to become a 14-event season, running from last month's opening tournament in Mayakoba, Mexico, through to the November finale in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Eight of those events will take place in the United States, including the March 17-20 Tucson tournament.

It has a US TV deal now, with CW Network. The major sport networks have not picked it up yet, but this marks a significant stepping stone.

By next year, it may even be awarding ranking points, although that is far from certain to come to pass.

There will be LIV players allowed to compete at the Masters next month, and they are set to be able to compete at all four majors, while remaining exiled from the PGA Tour and Europe's DP World Tour, and quite possibly the Ryder Cup.

Chile's Mito Pereira and Colombian Sebastian Munoz have moved across from the PGA Tour this year, and the question is whether any more notable names will also be tempted.

Cantlay, who was rumoured to be considering a switch to LIV last season, said the no-cut PGA Tour step would "make the Tour stronger and put an emphasis on those weeks".

What about this week? It's a mess, isn't it?

Smith's absence is a tough one for the Players Championship to swallow. Organisers have been unable to herald the champion's return, and Smith would sooner be involved than on the outside, but he made his choice and this is the consequence.

In fact, last year's top three are all LIV-ing it up these days, with Anirban Lahiri and Paul Casey consequently not involved this week either.

Smith lives just down the road, and he told Golf.com he would "definitely be watching on TV", hinting he could even turn up to watch.

"I grew up my whole childhood watching the event and yeah I'd love to get out there," Smith said.

"I don't know how it would kind of be received, but getting out there and watching, walking around in the crowd, might be pretty funny."

In a serious, big-bucks business, there would be a sense of pantomime to that happening, and it seems unlikely Smith will roll up. But then this all seemed unlikely two years ago, and here we are.

Rory McIlroy claimed the emergence of the LIV Golf Invitational Series "has benefitted everyone that plays elite professional golf" and whipped the PGA Tour into shape after years of being mired in an "antiquated" existence.

The Northern Irishman was not changing his tune and singing the praises of the Saudi-backed series, but he believes it has served as a timely jolt for the US-based PGA Tour, shaking it from a long stupor.

Ahead of this week's Players Championship at Sawgrass, McIlroy was part of a player meeting with PGA Tour bosses on Tuesday in which details of eight newly designated no-cut tournaments for next season were explained.

The limited-field events have sparked mockery from players on the LIV circuit, who have accused the PGA Tour of mimicking the breakaway series after previously being so critical.

There have also been suggestions of concerns from within the PGA Tour ranks that players with tour cards will be frozen out of the biggest events, making it a clear two-tier tour.

McIlroy, who has been heavily involved in strategy meetings, does not agree and believes there is ample opportunity for players to perform well and earn a place in the elite events, pointing out there would be 29 full-field tournaments next year.

He felt Tuesday's meeting had helped the sceptics, saying: "I think when more information and data was presented to them, the people that maybe had reservations about it I think came around, or at least were more informed on their opinions.

"I think the temperature in the room was nowhere near as hot as I anticipated it to be once the information was laid out."

McIlroy said players wanted to be convinced "that there's enough jeopardy built into the system". He admitted a previous meeting, held in Delaware last August, had been "very self-serving for the 20 players in that room", with tour chiefs talking them down and ensuring more flexibility was built into line-up potential for the no-cut events.

The world number three confirmed fields of around 50 players had been proposed at one point, with only 10 players dropping out each year. Now these lucrative tournaments will see 70 to 80 players involved.

"You know Tiger Woods won 26 no-cut events in his career, right. There's always been no-cut events," McIlroy said. "Jack Nicklaus won 20 no-cut events. Arnold Palmer won 17.

"There's precedent for no-cut events. The cuts that you have to make to get into those events, so making the play-offs, getting into the top 50, there's certain things that you have to do to qualify for those events. I think that's more than fair to warrant eight events a year that are guaranteeing the players four days."

McIlroy has been as vocal as anybody in opposing the LIV series, with the 33-year-old scathing about many of the players who have taken the tens of millions on offer.

Given its Saudi backing, and criticism of that country's human rights record, the LIV series has been cited by many critics as an attempt at sportswashing.

Superstars including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau have joined LIV Golf, and the PGA Tour is determined to fend off the threat of any more luminaries leaving.

Cameron Smith, last year's champion at Sawgrass, is another who has taken the LIV money, and consequently will be absent from the field this week.

Asked how much of the change happening on the PGA Tour now, with prize money soaring, could be attributed to LIV's encroachment, McIlroy said: "A lot of it. I'm not going to sit here and lie; I think the emergence of LIV or the emergence of a competitor to the PGA Tour has benefitted everyone that plays elite professional golf.

"When you've been the biggest golf league in the biggest market in the world for the last 60 years, there's not a lot of incentive to innovate.

"This has caused a ton of innovation at the PGA Tour, and what was quite, I would say, an antiquated system is being revamped to try to mirror where we're at in the world in the 21st century with the media landscape.

"The PGA Tour isn't just competing with LIV Golf or other sports. It's competing with Instagram and TikTok and everything else that's trying to take eyeballs away from the PGA Tour as a product.

"LIV coming along has definitely had a massive impact on the game, but I think everyone who's a professional golfer is going to benefit from it going forward."

Cameron Smith could go from celebrated winner to spectator non grata at the Players Championship this week as the LIV Golf defector toys with a return to Sawgrass.

The Australian is banned from defending his title after leaving the PGA Tour for the lucrative Saudi-led series, a decision that came in the wake of his Open Championship victory last July.

USA Today's Golfweek reported Smith was stripped of his parking spot at Sawgrass and refused permission to practise at the course after making his career-changing decision.

He lives practically on the doorstep of the course, however, in a plush home just minutes away, and Smith hinted he will feel inclined to head for the course and pay at the gate, just so he gets to see some of the action first hand.

That would be a move that causes a major stir, with the rivalry between the competing tours at close to boiling point.

In an interview with Golf.com, Smith said: "I'm a little bit unsure, you know. That's where I live now, so I don't know, I'll definitely be watching on TV.

"I think it's a great event to watch. I grew up my whole childhood watching the event and, yeah, I'd love to get out there.

"I don't know how it would kind of be received, but getting out there and watching, walking around in the crowd, might be pretty funny."

Smith won by one stroke from Anirban Lahiri last year, landing what was then the biggest title of his career, which he went on to top at St Andrews.

Lahiri is also banned from competing, having committed to LIV, and the same applies to Paul Casey, who was third last year.

Play gets under way on Thursday.

The PGA Tour has confirmed plans to introduce designated events with limited fields and no cuts from 2024, in a bid to fend off competition from the rival LIV Golf circuit.

The tour has seen several household names – including Lee Westwood, Cameron Smith and Phil Mickelson – defect to the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed series since its launch last year.

On Wednesday, reports suggested a radical overhaul of the PGA calendar was on the agenda, with some events refashioned in the format of LIV Golf's no-cut, limited-field structure, while others would offer exemptions to players with strong ranking positions.

Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has now outlined the changes, with the 2024 season to contain eight events with fields of 70-78 players competing for elevated purses and FedEx Cup points.

"These smaller, designated event fields will not only deliver substantial, can't-miss tournaments to our fans at important intervals throughout the season, but they will also enhance the quality of full-field events," Monahan said.

"Together, this approach provides a schedule that is cohesive, compelling, consequential and with clarity for fans, players and sponsors alike."

The tour said eligibility criteria for the events will "reward top performers" while still providing opportunities for players to qualify, with the FedEx Cup standings largely used to determine entry.

The announcement attracted the ire of LIV Golf, with the official account of the breakaway tour tweeting: "Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Congratulations PGA Tour. Welcome to the future."

Earlier on Wednesday, LIV Golf player Westwood took to social media to accuse the PGA of hypocrisy, saying: "I've spent the last year reading how good full fields and cuts are!"

The Ryder Cup will not be "devalued" if LIV Golf Invitational Series players are barred from taking part, insists Justin Rose.

The build-up to this year's tournament in Rome has been overshadowed by debates surrounding the eligibility of players who signed up for the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf circuit.

The United States have already said their team will not feature any LIV Golf players, while the chances of any European LIV Golf participants qualifying could be limited by this week's arbitration hearing to establish whether they can play on the DP World Tour. 

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Europe's three-time Ryder Cup champion Rose backed the tournament to cope with the absence of some of golf's biggest names.

"There is so much strength in depth, I don't think it will be devalued," Rose said.

"People like watching Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter. They bring a lot of passion. They will be missed for sure, but it is what it is.

"You have the powers that be, the traditional people who still have control of golf, and you have an upstart league that is trying to bring in a fresh idea and rival product.

"It's all good either way, they just can't both fit together in this scenario."

Rose, who ended a four-year PGA Tour title drought by winning the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Monday, gave genuine consideration to an offer from LIV Golf, but the tour's inability to award world ranking points led to him rejecting the chance to join.

"There have been moments where it all sounds pretty good on paper," he said of LIV Golf. "The concept itself has been around for seven years and there are elements where it sounds really, really cool.

"There was never a moment in time when all the top players could get behind it because there were too many unanswered questions, specifically around world ranking points, that was the major hurdle I faced with the decision.

"I couldn't get away from the fact I wanted to play major championship golf. I don't have exemptions down the line so my clean way into the majors is maintaining a good world ranking.

"So that became a null and void, a non-negotiable, from my point of view."

Rory McIlroy saw no need to defend his actions after he blanked Patrick Reed at a practice session ahead of the Dubai Desert Classic.

Reed is alleged to have thrown a golf tee at McIlroy after the world number one refused to acknowledge him.

McIlroy has stressed he did not see a tee being thrown at him, while Reed denied it.

However, McIlroy explained he has no desire to speak to Reed, who the Northern Irishman has claimed sent him court papers on Christmas Eve.

Reed is one of several high-profile players to have joined the LIV Golf Invitational Series last year, a Saudi-backed breakaway from the PGA Tour, the main tour for which McIlroy has become an unofficial spokesperson over the past 12 months.

"Patrick came up to say hello and I didn't really want him to," McIlroy told reporters in Dubai.

"From my recollection, that was it. I didn't see a tee. I didn't feel a tee. Obviously, someone else saw that.

"But it's definitely a storm in a teacup. I can't believe it's actually turned into a story; it's nothing.

"I was down by my bag, and he came up to me. I was busy working and sort of doing my practice. I didn't feel the need to acknowledge him."

It is unclear if McIlroy will take any further steps, though the 33-year-old added: "I didn't see a tee coming my direction at all, but apparently that's what happened. And if roles were reversed and I'd have thrown that tee at him, I'd be expecting a lawsuit."

McIlroy also suggested Reed must be living in a different world if he believed the four-time major champion would shake his hand.

"I was subpoenaed by his lawyer on Christmas Eve," McIlroy said.

"Trying to have a nice time with my family and someone shows up on your doorstep and delivers that, you're not going to take that well.

"I'm living in reality, I don't know where he's living. If I were in his shoes, I wouldn't expect a hello or a handshake."

McIlroy again reiterated his opposition to LIV Golf, saying: "There's no point in just being a mouthpiece when you can't back that up by playing good golf and showing people the rewards people can have out here if they are playing well.

"It's a merit-based system. That's the thing that I've always struggled with: if a five-year-old boy or girl know that they work hard and they shoot the scores, there's a merit-based system in golf all the way through junior golf, amateur golf, all the way up to the professional level, and they can make it to the top levels of the game.

"This is the one thing that's come into the game that has disrupted that. It's not a merit-based system."

Patrick Swayze famously said "nobody puts Baby in the corner" in 'Dirty Dancing', but Scottie Scheffler joked he planned to do so for Bubba Watson at this year's Masters Champions dinner.

It was confirmed last month that LIV Golf defectors will be allowed to play at Augusta National provided they meet the eligibility criteria, as the civil war between the Saudi-backed breakaway series and the PGA Tour continues.

Two-time champion Watson is among a group of past victors such as Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, and Charl Schwartzel, while Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau can all tee it up due to successes at other major tournaments.

Jon Rahm shrewdly observed this week that "the Masters Champions Dinner's going to be a little tense compared to how it’s been in the past" as players from the warring tours gather in the same room.

Scheffler, aiming to regain world number one status in Hawaii at the Tour of Champions this week, did his part to diffuse any simmering tension with a cheeky comment about Watson during a chance meeting on vacation.

"Yeah, I haven't seen many of the LIV guys. I saw Bubba on vacation this year, and I told him that I was just going to have a separate table for him in the corner by himself. Only kidding, obviously!" the defending Masters champion quipped.

"I just walked into this restaurant and him and Angie [Watson's wife] were sitting there and I was like, 'Hey, man, what's up.'"

Scheffler did reflect on the strange events occurring in golf.

His locker at Hualalai Golf Club this week is next to defending champion Smith, who is ineligible to play following his defection to LIV. 

Scheffler, though, remains confident the wounds will heal.

"In the world of golf, it's definitely a little sad what's happening. It's kind of weird this week. I get to my locker, and my locker's next to Cam Smith's locker, because he's a past champ here, and he's not here," he added.

"So, it's a little strange, but golf will move on. I think this stuff just takes time. Things will heal and we'll see what happens. 

"All that stuff is not really for me. I can only show up and just try and play good golf, and I'm not going to LIV anytime soon and so it's not of a concern for me at the moment."

Asked about the mood in the room at the Champions Dinner, Scheffler said: "With Augusta National being such a special place and with the history of the game and whatnot I think we can put all our stuff aside and just get together for a fun meal, all in a room together and just kind of celebrate the game of golf and Augusta National and just hang out."

Jon Rahm wants the PGA and DP World tours to collaborate in making a decision on the inclusion of LIV Golf players at this year's Ryder Cup.

A number of high-profile players have left both tours for LIV Golf since the Saudi Arabia-backed circuit's inception last year.

Henrik Stenson was stripped of the Europe captaincy in July after making the switch, with Ryder Cup veterans like Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood among those in danger of being ruled ineligible, while the United States have ruled out the selection of LIV players.

Speaking ahead of the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Rahm said it would not be smart to have a situation at the Ryder Cup – which takes place in Rome in September – where one team calls up LIV Golf players and the other does not.

"Listen, there's some people that are going to have to make some tough choices," he said. "I hope the PGA of America and European Tour make a decision together. I don't think it would be smart to have one team allowing LIV players and one not to.

"And besides that, even if they decide not to on that side, I think it's going to give an opportunity for a lot of great young players to show up and have the chance in Europe, right? It's just going to be an opportunity for all of them. We saw a younger United States team last Ryder Cup and they did what they did [beating Europe 19-9 in 2021].

"I'm hoping these younger guys who have grown up watching the Ryder Cup and seeing their idols do what they do, let's say, it energises the team a little bit in any manner and we show up there to win."

Rahm also joked about the "chaos" around the LIV Golf breakaway, saying: "I've had two kids in 15 months, so compared to that, I don't know if what's happened around golf is as comparable."

He insists it has not changed his perception of his fellow professionals, though, adding: "I didn't feel a difference in any of the majors last year. If somebody has a problem with LIV players, they're just not going to deal with them and that's about it.

"In my mind, like I've said it before, I respect their choice and the ones I was friends with before I'm still going to be friends with, right? It doesn't change the way I'm going to operate with them."

Rahm, a big football fan, was also asked for his opinion on the recent World Cup final that saw Argentina and Lionel Messi beat France on penalties after an exciting 3-3 draw in Qatar, which also featured Kylian Mbappe scoring a hat-trick for Les Bleus.

"That final was incredible," he said. "I think I took more inspiration from Mbappe. He put the team on his back and tied a final that they had no business tying, let's be honest.

"And Messi, I mean, I've been watching Messi play for so long that it's amazing that he can still surprise a lot of people. When the debate of greatest of all time is up in the air, he does what he did and carried Argentina to a World Cup final.

"It's not my business to decide who is the best or who is not because I never saw [Diego] Maradona play, but he's made a pretty good argument.

"I don't know if I'll see a final this good ever again in my lifetime. I hope I do, but I doubt it. The only way this could have been better if it was Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo facing off and they each had a hat trick and things like that. Kylian being the next closest thing, because he's clearly the future of this sport."

LIV Golf players will be able to play in the 2023 Masters provided they meet the tournament's existing entry criteria.

Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and Charl Schwartzel joined the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway LIV Golf series this year, but will be eligible to compete at Augusta next April due to being former Masters champions.

Cameron Smith has been invited to play due to his Open triumph this year, while Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka can also tee off in Georgia as a result of their major successes.

Augusta National Golf Club Fred Ridley said in a statement: "From its inception in 1934, the purpose of the Masters Tournament has been to benefit the game of golf.

"Each April, the Masters assembles the world’s leading golfers to compete for the Green Jacket and a place in history.

"Regrettably, recent actions have divided men’s professional golf by diminishing the virtues of the game and the meaningful legacies of those who built it.

"Although we are disappointed in these developments, our focus is to honour the tradition of bringing together a pre-eminent field of golfers this coming April.

"Therefore, as invitations are sent this week, we will invite those eligible under our current criteria to compete in the 2023 Masters Tournament.

"We have reached a seminal point in the history of our sport. At Augusta National, we have faith that golf, which has overcome many challenges through the years, will endure again."

Mickelson did not play in the Masters this year as he took time out from the sport after coming in for huge criticism over comments he made about Saudi Arabia's human rights record before joining LIV Golf.

LIV Golf has added three new events to the circuit's 2023 schedule, which will take place in Arizona, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

Last month, the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed tour announced stops in Mexico, Spain, Singapore and Australia would be included on the calendar next year.

Wednesday's addition of three competitions to take place in the United States means LIV Golf has now revealed half of its 14 planned events for 2023.

A statement from the circuit said: "LIV Golf today announced three new championship venues that will host tournaments as part of the 2023 LIV Golf League schedule. 

"The Gallery Golf Club in Tucson, Arizona (March 17-19), Cedar Ridge Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma (May 12-14), and The Greenbrier in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia (August 4-6) will welcome many of the sport's biggest stars in the groundbreaking LIV Golf League teeing off in 2023."

LIV Golf chief executive and commissioner Greg Norman added: "LIV Golf's expansion to new US markets adds to the growing excitement for the league launch in 2023. 

"More fans across the country and around the globe will experience the LIV Golf energy and innovative competition that has reinvigorated the sport.

"These championship courses will contribute to the transformative season ahead for players, fans and the game of golf."

LIV added that final rosters for the rebranded LIV Golf League will be announced in 2023, with 12 team franchises set to compete across 14 events for a total of $405million in prize purses.

Rory McIlroy decided to become "a pain in the a**e" for Greg Norman after the LIV Golf chief executive accused him of having been "brainwashed" by the PGA Tour.

The Northern Irishman has been a fierce critic of the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed circuit, and was recently joined by Tiger Woods in calling for Norman to leave his role.

McIlroy said last month that Norman must "exit stage left" and that the bitter civil war engulfing the sport would not end "unless there's an adult in the room".

Norman recently opted to continue the duo's war of words when speaking to Today's Golfer, saying he paid "zero attention" to the three-time FedEx Cup champion's opinion.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, McIlroy recalled a positive exchange he had with Norman after watching a documentary focused on the Australian's collapse at the 1986 Masters, where Jack Nicklaus edged him out for a one-shot victory.

"It was a bit of an olive branch," McIlroy said. "He came back to me straight away, [saying] 'I really think golf can be a force for good around the world... I know our opinions are not aligned but I'm just trying to create more opportunities for every golfer around the world.'

"Fine. Really nice. Then, a couple of weeks later, he does an interview with The Washington Post and says I've been brainwashed by the PGA Tour.

"We've had this really nice back-and-forth and he says that about me.

"I thought: 'You know what? I'm going to make it my business now to be as much of a pain in his a**e as possible'."

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."

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