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Alamy Stock Photo Rory McIlroy.
# Controversial
'I don't think they should drop the hammer' - McIlroy understands why golfers joined Saudi tour
The 33-year-old reiterated that he has no plans to play in the Liv Golf Invitational Series.

RORY MCILROY SAYS players joining a new Saudi-backed golf series should not face heavy sanctions but reiterated he had no interest in signing up to the controversial venture.

Speaking as the golf world digested news that former world number one Dustin Johnson was heading the field for the inaugural event in the LIV Golf Invitational Series next week, McIlroy said he was “indifferent” to news of the players opting into the lucrative tour.

The PGA Tour has taken a hardline stance against the upstart series, warning in the past that professionals participating in the league could be banned from tour events in future.

However four-time major-winner McIlroy said he does not want players signing up for the new series — which include his close friend Graeme McDowell — to face stiff penalties.

“I certainly don’t think they should drop the hammer,” McIlroy replied when asked if he thought authorities should get tough with the rebel golfers.

“Look, (authorities) are well within their rights to enforce the rules and regulations that have been set.

“But it’s going to end up being an argument about what those rules and regulations are.

“I have some very close friends that are playing in this event in London, and I certainly wouldn’t want to stand in their way to, for them to do what they feel is right for themselves.

It’s not something that I would do personally. But I certainly understand why some of the guys have went, and it’s something that we are all just going to keep an eye on and see what happens over these next few weeks.”

McIlroy, who was speaking in Ohio on the eve of the PGA Tour’s Memorial tournament, meanwhile expressed sympathy for those players reaching the tail-end of their careers opting to join LIV for the chance to earn big money.

tulsa-ok-usa-20th-may-2022-dustin-johnson-during-the-second-round-of-the-2022-pga-championship-at-southern-hills-country-club-in-tulsa-ok-gray-siegelcal-sport-mediaalamy-live-news Alamy Stock Photo Dustin Johnson. Alamy Stock Photo

Next week’s opening LIV event at Centurion Club in St. Albans, north of London will have the largest purse in golf history at $25 million (€23.5m) — almost double that of any major, with $4m (€3.76m) going to the winner.

“You know, you have some guys in a position where like they are literally not guaranteed a job next year,” McIlroy said.

“It’s hard to stay in the top-125 out here, especially when you’re a guy in your 40s and maybe you don’t hit the ball as far as you’ve used to. It’s a young man’s game nowadays.

“So someone that isn’t guaranteed their Tour card next year, another entity comes along and says, ‘We’ll guarantee you this amount for three years, plus you’re playing for a ton more prize money, and you’re playing less events, you can spend more time with your family.’

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“I mean, whenever you sit down and look at some of those things, you know, it’s very appealing to some of those guys that are in that position.

“Again, I’m not in that position, and it’s not something that I would do. But you know, you at least have to try to put yourself in other people’s shoes and see where they are coming from.”

– © AFP 2022

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