TULSA, Oklahoma (Reuters) – The showdown between the LIV Golf Invitational Series and the PGA Tour is going to shape the future of golf predicted Rory McIlroy, as the big-money Saudi-backed venture hijacked the PGA Championship on Tuesday.
It takes something explosive to blast Tiger Woods from a major spotlight but that is what happened at Southern Hills Country Club as the world’s best golfers were paraded through the interview room and asked their thoughts on the eight event tour offering an eye-popping total prize purse of $255 million.
McIlroy, twice a PGA Championship winner, once proclaimed the LIV Series dead in the water but with the first tournament set to debut from June 9-11 at the Centurion Club outside London the Northern Irishman conceded his prediction was premature.
“I might have been a little presumptuous at that point,” McIlroy told reporters. “It seems like it’s still going.
“I think we’re just going to have to see how it plays out.
“Honestly it’s going to shape the future of professional golf one way or another, so I think we’re just going to have to see how it all shakes out.”
For McIlroy and many others that future — for the moment — does not include the LIV series.
McIlroy said he had made his decision and owed his allegiance to the PGA Tour but that ultimately it was an individual choice.
“I’ve made my decision, and I know where I want to play,” said McIlroy, adding that he was sick of the subject. “I’m not standing in anyone’s way, and I’m not saying that they shouldn’t go over there and play if that’s what they feel is right for them, then 100 percent they should go and do it.
“I think the sooner it all happens and the sooner everything shakes out, I think we can all just go back to not talking about it and doing what we want to do.”
The battle lines have been drawn.
The PGA Tour has followed through on its threat to punish any member joining the breakaway circuit by refusing to release players, while LIV CEO Greg Norman said the series was prepared to reimburse players who were fined and had legal injunctions ready to go if they were sanctioned or banned.
Who might play in the LIV Series is open to wild speculation but most of the world’s top golfers, including Woods and McIlroy, have proclaimed their loyalty to the PGA Tour.
But there are other players considering their options, no doubt tempted by the lure of a massive payday.
Golfers at the Centurion will be playing for a purse of $25 million, almost triple the PGA Tour Canadian Open’s $8.7 million which will be played the same week.
For British Open champion Collin Morikawa the decision comes down to majors over money.
“At the end of the day, you make a decision — do you want to do this or do you want to do that?’ said the American. “When it comes down to it, it’s more about where your heart lies.
“You weigh where you are in life, what’s important, what you want to do, and you make a decision.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Tulsa; Editing by Ken Ferris)