We Can't Just Welcome LIV Golfers Back In - McIlroy Wants 'Consequences' Before PGA Tour returns

Rory McIlroy says LIV Golf players need to suffer some sort of consequences before they're allowed back onto the PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy says LIV Golf players will not just be welcomed back into the PGA Tour fold if the proposed merger with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) goes ahead, warning “there still has to be consequences to actions.”

Still visibly reeling from the bombshell announcement that the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and PIF will all join together to form a new golfing entity, McIlroy let rip at his scheduled press conference ahead of the defence of his Canadian Open title.

McIlroy, who was the main defender and spokesman for the PGA Tour during their battle with LIV Golf, admitted feeling like “a sacrificial lamb” after Jay Monahan performed a huge U-turn and decided to partner up with the PIF.

While adding that “I still hate LIV”, McIlroy addressed the issue of players such as Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and chief instigator Phil Mickelson possibly returning to the PGA Tour to play.

It looks likely that they’ll be allowed back onto the PGA Tour at some stage, but Monahan said they simply wouldn’t just walk back in – and McIlroy also backed that up saying that those who left for LIV had to suffer some consequences.

“There still has to be consequences to actions,” said McIlroy. “The people that left the PGA Tour irreparably harmed this Tour, started litigation against it.

“We can't just welcome them back in. Like, that's not going to happen.

“And I think that was the one thing that Jay was trying to get across yesterday is like, guys, we're not just going to bring these guys back in and pretend like nothing's happened. That is not going to happen.”

McIlroy, who insists he never received an official offer to join LIV, added that redressing the financial balance for those who did turn down huge offers to stay on the PGA Tour was the ideal scenario – even if there seems no easy way to do that.

And while PGA Tour events will be boosted by big-name players returning, the anger among the membership stems from players who are struggling to keep their cards possibly being knocked off the Tour to make way for returning LIV players.

“What that looks like for individual players in terms of keeping a Tour card and bringing players back into the fold and then that sacrifices other people, that's where the anger comes from, right. And I understand that,” McIlroy added.

Some players, such as Matt Fitzpatrick, have previously said that LIV players should never be allowed back on the PGA Tour, so it’s yet another interesting facet of this proposed move that will take a lot of sorting out.

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.