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Rory McIlroy in $25 million admission about LIV Golf amid glaring Cameron Smith truth

The Irishman believes the sport is losing fans due to the LIV Golf and PGA Tour split.

Rory McIlroy is concerned that golf is losing fans as the best golfers are split between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf events. The Players Championship is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year but the Tour's $38 million flagship event is missing its 2022 winner Cameron Smith as well as reigning major champions Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm.

All three players currently play on the LIV circuit alongside the likes of fellow major champions Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Sergio Garcia. The financial pull of LIV Golf has enticed dozens of players to leave the PGA Tour and the split has meant that several of the world's best will not be at this week's Players Championship in Florida as all LIV golfers have been banned from competing.

Pictured left Rory McIlroy and right Cameron Smith
Rory McIlroy has warned that golf continues to lose fans as the best golfers are split between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf events. Image: Getty

Despite the Irishman no longer being in a position to make leadership decisions, after resigning from the PGA Tour board amid tensions over dealings with LIV, he has floated a range of potential solutions to the problem but says none of them will immediately help deal with the exodus of fans. "I don't think there is a fast solution," McIlroy told BBC Sport.

"But everyone needs to put their feelings and egos aside and figure out a solution where we can bring all the best players back together week in week out. It's the biggest tournament outside of major championship and you don't have all the best players in the world here, that's a shame.

"I hope that changes quickly because unfortunately, I think fans are losing interest. In the wider world of golf I think people will tune in four weeks of the year for the majors, but I would like to think golf can be more relevant than just four weeks a year, so the faster we can try to figure this thing out the better."

HONG KONG, CHINA - MARCH 10: Cameron Smith of RIPPER GC reacts during day three of the LIV Golf Invitational - Hong Kong at The Hong Kong Golf Club on March 10, 2024 in Hong Kong, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
The Players Championship is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year but the PGA Tour's $38 million flagship event is missing its 2022 winner Cameron Smith. (Lintao Zhang via Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy wants to see a new golf Tour

Last month, McIlroy floated the idea of creating a Tour for the top 80 players in the world which would also allow LIV and the PGA Tour to continue as is. "I think everything sort of feeds up into that one," McIlroy said last month of the hypothetical new venture.

"You know, the way I look at it, it would be like Champions League in European football. It sort of sits above the rest of the leagues, and then all those leagues sort of feed up into that, and the best of the best play against each other in the Champions League is the way I think about it."

McIlroy's idea would not only preserve the biggest events in the United States but would also see bigger and better tournaments throughout the rest of the world, such as in Australia, South America, South Africa and Asia.

"This (the US) is the biggest market in golf in the world, so you have to take that into account," he said. "But there's no reason why for other parts of the year that we can't go further afield and play in some of those big markets. I think it would be beneficial not just for those markets and those fans but also for the tour as a whole and media partners and sponsors and everyone else."

Rory McIlroy says 'the clock is ticking' to win another major

As McIlroy competes at the Players Championship for the 14th time this week, he is desperate to put forward a strong performance as he looks to end his decade-long search for a fifth major title. The 34-year-old last won a major at the 2014 US PGA Championship at Valhalla but has had 19 top-10 finishes since then and believes it is a matter of time until he wins another.

"I'm under no illusion that the clock is ticking," he said. "It has been 10 years since I've won one of them, and I've had chances and those just haven't gone my way. I just need to keep putting myself in those positions and sooner or later it's going to happen."

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