BROOKLINE, Mass. — For six months, Rory McIlroy, now in his 13th year on the PGA Tour and a four-time major champion, has been the most outspoken critic of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit rattling the professional ranks.
On Tuesday, days after LIV Golf held its inaugural tournament outside London, McIlroy’s denigration of the rival league grew louder, and he found an ally in Jon Rahm, the defending champion at this week’s U.S. Open at the Country Club outside Boston. Referring to his victory at the PGA Tour’s Canadian Open last week and comparing it with LIV Golf’s event, McIlroy said: “Last week in Canada, LIV will never have that. Last week meant something. What they were doing over there meant nothing.”
McIlroy has long stressed that the LIV Golf series, whose major shareholder is the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia and which pays golfers hefty appearance fees with guarantees that everyone in the field will be awarded a substantial payout, is more of an exhibition than a competition. At the midpoint of nearly every PGA Tour event, for example, half the golfers in the field — those with the highest scores — are eliminated from the tournament and sent away without any monetary award.