Donald says the breakdown of Rory McIlroy’s friendships with Golf Leaf players is ‘sad’

Europe Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald says it is “sad” that Rory McIlroy’s friendships with the players who have joined the LIV Golf Invitational Series are unlikely to last.

McIlroy, 33, criticized LIV players ahead of the Italian Open at the DP World Tour last week, suggesting he believes those who joined up with novice Greg Norman with big money should not be allowed to take part in the Ryder Cup.

The Northern Irishman said he “couldn’t help myself” expressing a strong opinion on the subject because he feels so passionate about the power struggle currently dominating the world of professional golf.

McIlroy teamed up with Tiger Woods to create a new Monday night golf league – called TGL – while also appearing to be one of the driving forces behind the sweeping changes to the PGA Tour that Commissioner Jay Monahan announced in response to LIV.

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Donald, 44, also spoke to the media ahead of the Italian Open. Donald said earlier that he had no plans to “do Henrik” when it was revealed as the Swede’s replacement.

The Englishman admitted that the situation with the LIV means we are “still a little bit forgotten,” adding: “We don’t know what’s going to happen with the lawsuit, so I’m trying not to really put in too much energy. [into thinking about it]. Once we get a clearer picture, I can give you better answers.”

Donald has now spoken to Riyadh al-Samarrai for the Daily Mail, where he talks about how the “division” in the sport has affected his preparations.

He even joked, “Maybe we need a family test night” to ease tensions.

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“There are certainly more divisions in our sport than ever before,” he told the newspaper. “Part of my job is to unite 12 men and their desire to get together next October.

“I hope things get better and we’ll have more clarity. But until then we’ll just do our best, and be in control of what we can. It’s fun and stressful and I think going through that tension is the only thing getting close. Maybe we need a family test night.”

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Asked if he had any sympathy for the players who joined the LIV Tour of golf, Donald said: “I’m not sure sympathy is the right word.

“I think a lot of players know if something like this happens, there’s a chance they won’t be able to play in the cup or the tour. They took this opportunity because they had a great career, so I wouldn’t sympathize with them.”

He added, “The thing I want to get out of this (the captain) is to have lasting relationships with 12 men and keep it going. That’s the sad thing when you talk about Rory and some relationships. I’m sure he would have loved that you continue to do so.” .

“There’s a bit of a power struggle at the moment, and sometimes the competition can be good. I think the big players will eventually benefit from this and we see that. But hopefully there will be some sort of compromise, if that’s the right word.”

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“The good thing is that the Ryder Cup represents something bigger than all of this. It represents something different from what is going on right now – unity, convergence and cohesion.

“It’s about playing for your teammates. That’s why I’m excited about this job. It’s important that you carry on with that history.”

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