'A Couple Of Surprises' - McIlroy Gives Verdict On 'Indifferent' LIV Series Field

The Northern Irishman says the field for the upcoming Saudi-backed series isn't that impressive

Rory McIlroy takes a shot during the final round of the 2022 PGA Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy has had his say on the strength of the field for the first LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament, which starts next week at London’s Centurion Club, and he isn’t that impressed.

McIlroy had made his feelings about the inaugural series known on several occasions, most recently before last month’s PGA Championship, where he said he was “sick of talking about it.” However, in light of the announcement of the LIV Golf Invitational Series field, the 33-year-old offered his opinion ahead of this week’s Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village, and he isn’t too excited. He said: “I’d say indifferent is probably the way I’d describe it. A couple – a couple of surprises in there, I think.”

The field contains one big shock in the form of World No.13 Dustin Johnson, who had – like McIlroy – previously pledged his allegiance to the PGA Tour. However, the allure of around $125m was reportedly enough to tempt Johnson to sign up. Even with his inclusion, though, McIlroy doesn’t find the field that impressive, particularly compared to the PGA Tour. He said: “I certainly don’t think the field is anything to jump up and down about. Look at the field this week. Look at the field next week in Canada. They are proper golf tournaments.”

Despite McIlroy’s lack of enthusiasm for the strength of the field – which also includes the likes of Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood – he said he could understand why the chance to make potentially life-changing money has tempted some players. He said: “Look, I have some very close friends that are playing in this event in London, and I certainly wouldn’t want to stand in their way to, for them to do what they feel is right for themselves."

McIlroy then expanded on that point, saying: “You know, you have some guys in a position where like they are literally not guaranteed a job next year. It’s hard to stay in the top 125 out here, especially when you’re a guy in your 40s and maybe you don’t hit the ball as far as you’ve used to. As we’ve seen, it’s a young man’s game nowadays. So, someone that isn’t guaranteed their Tour card next year, another entity comes along and says: ‘We’ll guarantee you this amount for three years, plus you’re playing for a ton more prize money, and you’re playing less events, you can spend more time with your family.’"

"I mean, whenever you sit down and look at some of those things, you know, it’s very appealing to some of those guys that are in that position. Again, I’m not in that position, and it’s not something that I would do. But you know, you at least have to try to put yourself in other people’s shoes and see where they are coming from.”

Competitors in the 48-man field will play for a purse of $25m in the first event, which starts on 9 June, with the winner guaranteed $4m and the player who finishes last earning around $120,000. Over the course of the eight tournaments, the players will compete for $225m. 

Mike Hall
Mike Hall

Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.