McIlroy: legacy counts, not a ton of money

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Rory McIlroy has expressed his disappointment at the players who performed a U-turn to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, as he conceded being the poster boy of the PGA Tour was a "burden" he could do without.

McIlroy felt the proposed rebel circuit was "dead in the water" after Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau committed their futures to the PGA Tour in the wake of Phil Mickelson's explosive comments about the Tour and Saudi Arabia being published in February.

But Johnson was among the field for the first LIV event at Centurion Club in Hertfordshire last week, with DeChambeau announcing he had joined up during the second round.

"I guess I took a lot of players' statements at face value. I guess that's what I got wrong," McIlroy said ahead of the 122nd US Open at Brookline.

"You had people committed to the PGA Tour, and that's what the statements were that were put out. People went back on that.

"It's disappointing. The players that are staying on the PGA Tour feel slighted in some way. If those guys (who have left) thought outside of themselves, they would see this is not the best for everyone.

"My dad 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."

Asked specifically if he had lost respect for six-time major winner Mickelson, whose victory in the US PGA Championship last year made him the oldest major champion ever, McIlroy said: "As a golfer? No.

"He won a major championship 13 months ago, probably one of the crowning achievements of his career and one of the most impressive achievements in the history of the game of golf. As a golfer, I have the utmost respect for Phil.

"I've been disappointed with how he has went about what he has done, but I think he has come back and shown some remorse about how he has handled some things so I think he has learned from that."

McIlroy and Justin Thomas have emerged as the staunchest advocates of the PGA Tour and, a day after the 54-hole LIV event came to an underwhelming conclusion, they fought out the Canadian Open in a thrilling finish, with McIlroy eventually defending his title in front of a raucous crowd.

It was the 21st PGA Tour victory of McIlroy's career - one more than Norman - and prompted McIlroy to take a swipe at the Australian which he admitted at Brookline was a "little bit petty".

But the four-time major winner feels he has a duty to speak out about a subject he feels is "fracturing the game more than it already is".

"It's certainly a burden I don't need but I have very strong opinions on the subject," McIlroy said.

"Legacy, reputation... at the end of the day that's all you have. You strip everything away, and you're left with how you made people feel and what people thought of you. That is important to me. What they are doing over there does not mean anything, apart from collecting a ton of money."

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