Golf News: Rory McIlroy softens his stance on Phil Mickelson and players interested in playing in the LIV Golf Series

Golf News

Golf News: Rory McIlroy sees why certain players would be enticed by the LIV Golf Invitational Series, which is sponsored by Saudi Arabia, and feels Phil Mickelson will be welcomed back into the game.

The PGA Tour has turned down pleas from players to participate in the inaugural tournament, which will be held at Centurion Club in England from June 9 to 11, noting that the decision is in the “best interests of the Tour and the players.”

Players like Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, and Lee Westwood had requested a release to compete in the rival event, which overlaps with the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open and the DP World Tour’s Scandinavian Mixed.

After numerous high-profile players declared their support to the PGA Tour, McIlroy said in February that the proposed breakaway league was “dead in the sea,” however the former world No. 1 acknowledges he has since softened his stance on the matter.

“If you’re getting to the latter end of your career, and you’ve got no guarantee of playing on the PGA Tour next year – it’s hard to keep your card out here – and all of a sudden people are giving you the guarantee for the next three or four years of somewhere to play, to make some money, to basically have a job, I completely understand that,” McIlroy told Sky Sports News.

“Yes, people are going to have an issue with who is financing it and all that kind of stuff, but at the end of the day they [Saudis] are in a lot of things and unfortunately, whatever way you want to think of it, it’s the way of the world and that’s not going to change.

“They’ve got a lot of money, they’re going to be in a lot of things and that’s just way it is. I certainly don’t want to stand in the way of anyone from making more money.

“The like of some of those you’re talking about, Ryder Cup teammates of mine, I understand where they’re coming from and I certainly won’t speak an ill word about them because they’re friends of mine and they have to do what’s right for them.”

The show, hosted by Greg Norman, is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, prompting criticism of the large prize pools coming from a regime accused of human rights breaches.

When asked whether his view on potential participation changed, McIlroy added: “I think at the start it [the decision not to play] was a moral one. This [a breakaway series] has been floating around for the last seven or eight years. Now, at this point, it’s just so toxic to talk about that for me, it’s more of a self-preservation thing. I don’t need to get involved and I’m not going to get involved.

“I love being my own boss and I certainly wouldn’t want Greg Norman to be telling me what to do and where to show up and when to be there! I’m happy to do my thing and be my own boss, and that’s a big part of it.”

Mickelson’s request to compete in the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament came alongside entry for the PGA Championship and US Open, however, the 51-year-old will not defend his Wanamaker Trophy this week at Southern Hills.

Since the fallout from his harsh statements regarding the PGA Tour and the Saudi-backed breakaway led by Norman, the six-time major champion has taken a hiatus from golf.

Mickelson became the oldest winner of a major championship when he won at Kiawah Island last May, and McIlroy was upset that he didn’t make a competitive comeback for his title defence.

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