McIlroy, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday ahead of this week’s US Open at The Country Club, said he understands why older players are tempted by millions of dollars in signing bonuses from LIV Golf, but he believes the youngsters who left made a short-sighted decision. by cleavage.
“I understand. Yeah, because a lot of these guys are in their late forties,” McIlroy said. “In the case of Phil, in the early fifties. Yes, I think everyone in this room would tell themselves that their best days are over. That’s why I don’t understand men of the same age go because I like to think that the best days of my life are still ahead of me. , and I think their days are too. So, it feels like you’re taking the easy route.”
While McIlroy, 33, said he hasn’t lost his respect for Mickelson as a player, noting that he became the oldest major golf champion at the age of 50 at the 2021 PGA Championship on Kiawah Island, he didn’t like how Mickelson handled his split to Liv. golf.
“He won a major 13 months ago, which is probably one of the crowning feats of his career and one of the most impressive in golf history,” McIlroy said. “As a golfer, I have the utmost respect for Phil. I was disappointed with the way he handled what he did, but I think he came back and showed some remorse about how he handled some things, so I think he’s learned from that.”
Mickelson is competing in the US Open this week, his first start in the US since he missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open in late January. Mickelson and 16 other players who participated in the inaugural LIV Golf event in London last week were suspended due to the PGA Tour.
“Who am I to sit here and give Phil a lesson on how to do things?” McIlroy said. “He’s had an amazing career. He’s his own man. He’s a great addition to the field this week. Am I disappointed that he went the way he did? I am, but I still have great respect for him.”
McIlroy looked so frustrated that several players who had previously pledged allegiance to the PGA Tour, including Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Pat Perez, changed their minds. At Genesis in February, McIlroy said LIV Golf looked “dead in the water” after several top golfers said they would not be leaving the PGA Tour.
“I think I took a lot of players’ statements at face value,” said McIlroy, a four-time major champion whose wins include the 2011 US Open. “I think that’s where I got it wrong. You had people committed to the PGA Tour, and that’s what the data was thrown out. People came back to that, so I guess I took them at face value. I took their word for it, and I was wrong.”
McIlroy said he understood why the families and friends of victims of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were upset that Mickelson and other players were accepting hundreds of millions of dollars in signing bonuses from LIV Golf, which is funded by Saudi Arabia. Public Investment Fund.
Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.
“Yes, of course I do,” McIlroy said. “I guess whatever happens with this [LIV Golf] The tour, legitimizes their place in the world, and I’m sure not every Saudi is a bad person. We are talking about this in a general way. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Middle East, and the vast majority of people I meet there are very good people, but there are bad people everywhere. The villains who came from this part of the world did very horrible things.”
While McIlroy said it was difficult to separate sport from politics and “dirty money from clean money” in today’s world, he understands why 9/11 survivors and families of victims are upset.
“It’s a very complicated world right now,” McIlroy said. “I certainly sympathize with those families, and I can’t imagine. I have friends who lost people on 9/11, which is really tragic. I sympathize with those families, and I certainly understand their fears and frustrations with that all.”
McIlroy, an old friend and former Ryder Cup teammate with Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell, who played at the inaugural LIV Golf gala in London last week, did not say they participated in the Saudi sports wash.
“I don’t think they were complicit in that,” McIlroy said. “Look, they all have the choice of playing where they want to play, and they’ve made up their mind. My father said to me a long time ago, ‘Once you make your bed, you lie in it,'” and they’ve made their bed. That’s their decision, and they have to live with that.”
McIlroy, at least for now, doesn’t seem ready to join them.
“Because in my opinion it’s the right thing to do,” McIlroy said. “The PGA Tour was created by the people and players who came before us, the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. They created something and worked hard for something, and I’d hate to see all the players who came before us and all those hard people who just put in it become nothing.”