Australian Open winner Matt Jones is among those LIV rebels who have lost the respect of major champion Rory McIlroy for thinking they could get back into PGA Tour events with “no consequences”.
McIlroy, who has become an unofficial spokesperson for PGA Tour players in golf’s escalating war, said he started to take the battle personally when Jones was among 10 players who filed a lawsuit to have their tour bans, imposed for joining Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed breakaway group, overturned.
Jones was also one of three players who were denied an injunction they were seeking to compete in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which this week begin in Memphis, where McIlroy said the win in court was a “good day for the tour”.
But while McIlroy said he did not “begrudge” players joining LIV, a cohort that could yet include British Open champion Cameron Smith, he was fed up with them wanting to try and have it both ways and play the PGA Tour as well.
“I don’t begrudge anyone for going over to play LIV or taking guaranteed money. If that‘s your prerogative and what you want to do, totally fine,” he said.
“I think where the resentment comes from the membership of this tour is the fact that they want to try to get their way back in here with no consequences, and anyone that’s read the PGA Tour handbook or abided by the rules and regulations, that would feel very unfair to them.
“That’s sort of how it played out and I think everyone that has abided by the rules was … again, it’s like there’s such a long way to go. It’s like you birdied the first hole, but you‘ve still got 17 holes to go.
“It was a good day for the tour and for the majority of the membership yesterday.”
McIlroy, a four-time major winner who joined the PGA Tour board this year, said he had done his best to consider the position of those who crossed to LIV, but things “became more personal” when they decided to go to court.
“And the thing that I would say, I certainly have a little more respect for the guys that haven‘t put their names to the suit,” he said.
“It’s become a little more personal because of that.
“I don’t feel like it’s my job to be up here and stick up for the Tour or be a spokesperson. It’s just sort of the role that I found myself in, especially coming on the PGA Tour board this year.
“It was a great time to agree to do that.”