McIlroy says LIV Golf has hurt relationship with Ryder Cup team-mates

Rory McIlroy reveals his relationship with former Ryder Cup team-mates Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia is FINISHED after their defections to the divisive LIV Golf Series… as he continues to be a staunch critic of the Saudi-backed tour

  • Rory McIlroy admitted he no longer has a relationship with a number of his former Ryder Cup team-mates as a result of their defections to Liv Golf 
  • McIlroy has emerged as one of the most vocal critics of the Saudi-backed tour
  • The Northern Irishman slammed Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia
  • He is set to compete against the trio at the BMW PGA Championship this week

Rory McIlroy has admitted he no longer has a relationship with his former Ryder Cup team-mates Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia as the collateral damage of golf’s civil war piles up.

He said as much in a typically punchy briefing ahead of Thursday’s opening round at the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, where former colleagues have been brought together in an awkward reunion of LIV golfers and those who believe their defection has severely damaged the sport.

McIlroy, the favourite here and the most vocal critic against LIV, yesterday echoed the earlier sentiments of Billy Horschel and Jon Rahm in sharing his belief that 17 rebels present shouldn’t be teeing up in the tournament. The five-time Ryder Cup winner then went even further by saying friendships he once shared with European heroes Westwood, Poulter and Garcia have not survived their decision to join Greg Norman’s breakaway series.

Rory McIlroy has emerged as one of the staunchest critics of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series

McIlroy said: ‘I wouldn’t say I’ve got much of a relationship with them at the minute. But if you’re talking about Ryder Cup, that’s not the future of the Ryder Cup team.

‘They have played in probably a combined 25 Ryder Cups, 30 Ryder Cups, whatever it is. The future of the Ryder Cup is the Højgaards (Danish twins Rasmus and Nicolai), Bobby Mac (Robert MacIntyre), whoever else is coming up. Like they are the future of The Ryder Cup Team. That’s what we should be like thinking about and talking about.’

When asked if he felt any sadness at that situation, having previously enjoyed some of the finest moments of his career in their company, McIlroy added: ‘Yeah, but I haven’t done anything different. They are the ones that have made that decision. I can sit here and keep my head held high and say I haven’t done anything differently.’

McIlroy revealed he no longer had a relationship with Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia after the trio joined the divisive LIV Golf Series

McIlroy, who tops the Race to Dubai standings having won the PGA Tour Championship last month, has taken on the mantle of defending the traditional fronts of his sport at a time when they are under threat from the Saudi-backed breakaway.

That LIV have 17 players in European golf’s flagship event has predictably proven divisive, with those golfers scattered across lower-profile three-balls for the first two rounds.

Taking a dig at LIV’s 54-hole format, McIlroy said: ‘My opinion is they shouldn’t be here but again that’s just my opinion. But we are all going to tee it up on the first tee tomorrow and we are all going to go play 72 holes, which is a novelty for them at this point, and then we’ll go from there.’

It has been a quirk of this ongoing saga that McIlroy, in a period of maximum distraction, has played some of his finest golf in years.

McIlroy is set to compete against his former Ryder Cup team-mates this week

He added: ‘I’m speaking up because I believe in the game of golf, and look, the other side will say the exact same thing. But I don’t see how having 48 cherry-picked players is growing the game in any way.’

The four-time major winner’s comments followed fiery remarks from Keith Pelley, the CEO of the DP World Tour, who rubbished claims Garcia that the European circuit is in danger of falling to fifth in the global pecking order.

He said: ‘Can we please just stop the feeder tour nonsense once and for all. As to the point of heading towards being the world’s fifth tour, one of our members who is playing here this week actually said that. It’s unbelievable.’

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