'The ball is in their court' – McIlroy calls on LIV Golf players to fix divide with PGA Tour

By Sports Desk September 28, 2022

Rory McIlroy has called for players from the LIV Golf Invitational Series to step up to fix the bitter divide impacting the sport, declaring: "The ball is in their court."

McIlroy has been a steadfast critic of the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed circuit, which counts the likes of Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Bryson DeChambeau among its ranks. 

The FedEx Cup champion declared his "hatred" for the breakaway circuit last month, and recently said LIV players should be excluded from next year's Ryder Cup.

Speaking to BBC Sport on Wednesday, McIlroy said it was up to LIV's players to assume a leading role in repairing relations with those who remained loyal to the PGA.

"I would just say the ball is in their court," McIlroy said. "If they want to come to the table and try to play nicely within the sandbox that's already created, the opportunity is there."

Eleven LIV players initially supported an antitrust lawsuit filed against the PGA Tour, accusing it of operating as a monopoly and alleging the suspension of players joining the new circuit was improper.

However, eight of those players have since withdrawn, with Mickelson doing so on Tuesday. 

While McIlroy believes a resolution to golf's bitter civil war is possible, he said those legal proceedings currently make reconciliation difficult.

"Right now with two lawsuits going on, and how heightened the rhetoric has been, I think we just need to let it cool off a little bit," McIlory added.

"I don't know what's going to happen with this lawsuit. No one's going to want to talk to anyone when it's hanging over the game, so I don't know what happens there.

"I've probably said a few things that are maybe too inflammatory at times, but it just comes from the heart and how much I hate what this is doing to the game.

"It has been an ugly year but there's a solution to everything. If we can send rockets to the moon and bring them back again and have them land on their own I'm sure we can figure out how to make professional golf cohesive again."

However, as LIV Golf continues to lobby the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) for the ability to grant rankings points, McIlroy said the circuit's players will only have themselves to blame if they miss out on qualifying for majors.

"The only ones that are prohibiting them from getting world rankings points are themselves," McIlroy said.

"It's not as if [the OWGR] created this criteria out of thin air a few months ago to try to prevent LIV from getting points.

"I think if they were to pivot, have cuts, have a minimum field of 75, have more of a merit-based system where there's a meritocracy for how to get on the tour...

"There's a bunch of stuff where they don't meet the criteria yet, but if they were to change and meet all those points then there's obviously no reason not to give them world ranking points.

"I'm certainly not for banning them from majors, but with the way the world rankings are now, if someone that hasn't won the Masters before can't garner enough world ranking points to be eligible, then I think that's entirely on them.

"They knew the risks going in, and actions have consequences. That was a risk that they were paid for, ultimately. 

"If some of these guys that don't have exemptions in the majors don't qualify for them, I have no problem with that because they knew that going in."

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