Exclusive: ‘Complete Deterioration’ In McIlroy And Garcia Relationship Over LIV Golf

Golf Monthly understands that the Ryder Cup partners and former close friends have fallen out over LIV Golf

Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia celebrate at the Ryder Cup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Golf Monthly understands that Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy’s relationship has completely broken down over the former’s decision to sign with LIV Golf, with one source claiming it has “turned personal”.

McIlroy is understood to be unhappy about Garcia’s move to the Saudi-backed series and the potential repercussions with regards to the Ryder Cup. The DP World Tour hasn’t officially banned LIV Golf players from the biennial event, but Golf Monthly revealed earlier this week that the circuit is leaning towards excluding LIV players from the Ryder Cup qualification process.

Golf Monthly has been told the rhetoric has been “bitter and personal” in both directions, which comes as a huge surprise given McIlroy was an usher at Garcia’s wedding in 2017.

“I haven’t resigned from the European Tour because I would like to still be a member,” Garcia said during the LIV Golf event at Centurion earlier this month. "I'm European, I love the European Tour. I played it for 23 years. Obviously we're going to have to wait and see what the European Tour does. But I definitely would like to keep my membership and get my chance to make the Ryder Cup team because I love that event. But we'll wait and see what happens over there."

VIDEO: What is LIV Golf?

Sources suggest Garcia’s popularity has dwindled in recent times, starting with his “I can’t wait to leave this tour” comments in response to a lost ball ruling at the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship in May. 

And, at the BMW International Open in Germany last week, the Spaniard is alleged to have launched into an anti-DP World Tour rant in the locker room, saying how bad the circuit was and that players were making a mistake by sticking with it. Those present are said to have been taken aback by the comments, with one player apparently revealing how he’d lost all respect for Garcia. 

“They all think they are untouchable and they all think the tours can’t do anything. I think they’re all about to realise they’re wrong,” said one DP World Tour player of the LIV defectors. “It is short sighted to think regulations can’t change and that there isn’t a lot of ill feeling towards them. I think they’ve miscalculated quite dramatically.” 

One of the significant unknowns around the LIV circuit is whether world ranking points will be handed out at its events. If not, players could find themselves without a passageway into the game’s Major Championships. A senior DP World Tour player with multiple wins is said to be “pretty sure” LIV events won’t be handing out world ranking points.

All of this brings LIV players’ Major participation into question, and there’s early evidence that golf’s big four tournaments aren’t thrilled about the inauguration of the LIV Series.

While The Open and US Open will, and have, permitted LIV players to compete in 2022, Mike Whan, the USGA’s CEO, said ahead of this year’s event: “Could you envision a day where it would be harder for some folks doing different things to get into a US Open? I could. Will that be true? I don’t know, but I can definitely foresee that day.”

And Golf Monthly has spoken to a DP World Tour player who has conversed with a senior DP World Tour official regarding The Masters. According to him, The Masters’ stance is that no player is bigger than the tournament and that the event will always come first. That mantra is said to have influenced European Tour CEO Keith Pelley’s position on the Ryder Cup.

At this point, it doesn’t mean that European LIV players will be banned from the Ryder Cup, or that any LIV players will be prohibited from competing in The Masters or US Open, but an objective observer could certainly reason that it’s heading in that direction. 

Nick Bonfield
Nick Bonfield

Nick Bonfield joined Golf Monthly in 2012 after graduating from Exeter University and earning an NCTJ-accredited journalism diploma from News Associates in Wimbledon. He is responsible for managing production of the magazine, sub-editing, commissioning and feature writing. Most of his online work is opinion-based and typically centres around the Majors and significant events in the global golfing calendar. Nick has been an avid golf fan since the age of ten and became obsessed with the professional game after watching Mike Weir and Shaun Micheel win The Masters and PGA Championship respectively in 2003. In his time with Golf Monthly, he's interviewed the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jose Maria Olazabal, Henrik Stenson, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Billy Horschel and has ghost-written columns for Westwood, Wayne Riley, Matthew Southgate, Chris Wood and Eddie Pepperell. Nick is a 12-handicap golfer and his favourite courses include Old Head, Sunningdale New, Penha Longha, Valderrama and Bearwood Lakes. If you have a feature pitch for Nick, please email nick.bonfield@futurenet.com with 'Pitch' in the subject line. Nick is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade M1 Fairway wood: TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 Hybrid: Ping Crossover Irons (4-9): Nike Vapor Speed Wedges: Cleveland CBX Full Face, 56˚, Titleist Vokey SM4, 60˚ Putter: testing in progress! Ball: TaylorMade TP5x