By Ben Church, CNN
(CNN) — Rory McIlroy has said that the PGA Tour’s merger with the DP World Tour and LIV Golf will be “good for the game,” but maintained that he still hates the breakaway series.
Speaking at the Canadian Open the day after the shock announcement, the 34-year-old said he had “mixed emotions” about the decision, which he said he was still getting to grips with.
“I still hate LIV. Like, I hate LIV. I hope it goes away and I would fully expect that it does,” McIlroy said on Wednesday, before outlining the possible benefits of the merger.
“I look 10 years down the line, I think ultimately this is going to be good for the game of professional golf,” McIlroy added.
“It unifies it and it secures its financial future.”
The move unifies PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf’s commercial businesses and rights under a new, yet to be named for-profit company.
A spokesperson for the PGA Tour told CNN that the new relationship is not being viewed as a merger, but “a partnership/creation of a new commercial entity.”
The announcement promised a “capital investment” from PIF – Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, which has splashed billions of dollars on investments at home and overseas – to “facilitate” the “growth and success” of the new entity.
PIF is chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the man who a US intelligence report named as responsible for approving the operation that led to the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bin Salman has denied involvement in Khashoggi’s murder.
The source of the funding drew criticism and led to many golfers, including McIlroy, shunning the breakaway LIV Golf series.
In August 2022, the four-time major winner told CNN that LIV Golf had “ripped apart” the men’s game.
“It’s hard for me to not sit up here and feel somewhat like a sacrificial lamb and feeling like I’ve put myself out there,” McIlroy said on Wednesday.
“Again, removing myself from the situation, I see how this is better for the game of golf. There’s no denying that. But for me as an individual… there’s just going to have to be conversations that are had.”
Tiger Woods was also critical of LIV Golf, arguing in July 2022 that players who joined LIV Golf had “turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position.”
On Wednesday, McIlroy said he thought it was “misconstrued” that headlines were all about LIV Golf and the PGA Tour since the announcement.
“LIV’s got nothing to do with this, right. It’s the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and the Public Investment Fund basically partnering to create a new company,” McIlroy said, adding that there was still some “ambiguity” about the deal.
“I think that’s where I was a little frustrated because all I’ve wanted to do and all I’ve wanted in the past year… is to protect the future of the PGA Tour and protect the aspirational nature of what the PGA Tour stands for. And I hope that this does that.”
McIlroy said that he knew discussions were going on in the background and got the official word the partnership was happening Tuesday afternoon.
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.
CNN’s Jill Martin contributed to this reporting.