Rory McIlroy says players considering LIV switch must be ‘completely informed’

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Rory McIlroy
McIlroy was among the PGA Tour’s top players who discussed changes to counteract the threat of LIV Golf at a summit last week

Rory McIlroy says golfers considering leaving the PGA Tour in order to join LIV Golf must be “completely informed” over what they are leaving behind.

The Tour announced on Wednesday that it is increasing prize money at 12 events to match those of the breakaway league.

There has been continued speculation that Open champion Cameron Smith is the latest big name to be mulling over a move to the Saudi-backed tour.

“I had a conversation with [Smith] two days after The Open,” revealed McIlroy.

“Guys that are thinking one way or another, honestly I don’t care if they leave or not, like it’s not going to make a difference to me, but I would just 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.”

McIlroy has been one of the PGA Tour’s most vocal advocates during golf’s ongoing power struggle, and was one of the leading voices in a meeting held last week by the tour’s top players to discuss the threat of LIV Golf.

The world number four said the players considered ways to safeguard the future of the PGA Tour, and then worked in collaboration with the Tour to create the changes announced on Wednesday.

A host of big names including major winners Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson have joined LIV over the course of a tumultuous year for golf, prompting the PGA to respond with indefinite bans.

“I’ve always said this: guys can do whatever they want,” McIlroy continued.

“Guys can make a decision that they feel is best for themselves and for their families, but I’d just love guys to make decisions based on all of the facts and sometimes I don’t think some made those decisions based on having all the facts in front of them.”

Six-time major champion Mickelson played in the first LIV competition in June following a four-month break from the game after controversial comments about the events were published by his biographer.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson was one of the first big names linked with a move to the LIV tour

The American had also been critical of the PGA Tour, accusing it of “obnoxious greed” that had “opened the door” for other opportunities.

“As much as I probably don’t want to give Phil any sort of credit at all, yeah there are certain points that he was trying to make but there’s a way to go about them,” responded McIlroy.

“There’s a way to collaborate… you get all the top players in the world together and you get them on the same page. You then go to the Tour and you suggest ideas and you work together.

“Did they [Mickelson’s comments] have merit? Of course they did, but he just didn’t approach it the right way.”

‘When I tune in to Formula One I expect to see Lewis Hamilton’

On the eve of the Tour Championship, Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced that 12 PGA events would have an average purse of $20m (£16.9m) with top players competing in each one.

There was also the revelation that those players would feature in 20 events over the course of the season, with an increased payout for the player impact programme which pays players who generate coverage for the PGA Tour.

“I saw a stat yesterday: apart from the major championships and maybe the Players’ [Championship], the top 20 players in the world get together to play against each other one other time during the year,” said McIlroy.

“I think 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 in to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game I expect to see Tom Brady throw a football. When I tune in to a Formula One race I expect to see Lewis Hamilton in a car.

“Sometimes what’s happened in the PGA Tour is we all sort of act independently and we sort of have our own schedules and that means we never really get together all that often.

“I think what came out of the meeting last week… is that fact that we’ve all made a commitment to get together more often to make the product more compelling.”

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