Rory McIlroy sends message to Ryder Cup chiefs over Saudi rebels

Rory McIlroy believes golf’s Saudi rebels should be allowed to feature in the Ryder Cup despite their defection.

The Northern Irishman has been an outspoken critic of the LIV Golf Invitational Series and, earlier this year, turned down the chance to join the breakaway tour for moral reasons.

However, a number of stars including Dustin Johnson, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Phil Mickelson have signed up to the series and are set to play in its inaugural tournament this week.

Both the PGA and DP World Tour have warned that players who feature in LIV Golf’s events face a lifetime ban which would put their Ryder Cup eligibility in doubt.

Ahead of the Canadian Open on the PGA Tour, McIlroy said: ‘Yes, I think they should be able to (feature in the Ryder Cup). They’ve been such a part of the Ryder Cup and look at the history Poults (Ian Poulter) has at the Ryder Cup.

‘It would be such a shame for him not to be involved going forward.

‘It’s hard because they are playing in defiance of the Tour but I think everyone needs to get in a room and figure it out.

‘I feel like the professional game was on a nice trajectory where everything was becoming more cohesive and now it’s becoming more fractured again and I don’t think that’s a good thing.’

LIV Golf’s first event gets underway at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire on Thursday afternoon.

The threat of being excluded from the Ryder Cup has not put off the likes of Westwood and Poulter from submitting their entries.

Close to £20million in prize money is available in St Albans, with over £3m for the winner. Meanwhile, many of the participants have received huge signing on fees in the region of £100m.

The figures involved could have easily enticed McIlroy to join up to the new tour but the 33-year-old reiterated his intentions to steer clear of Greg Norman and LIV Golf.

He added: ‘I think my stance on it has been pretty clear from the start. It’s not something that I want to participate in. I’m certainly not knocking anyone for going. It’s their life, it’s their decision, they can live it the way they want to.

‘But for me I want to play on the PGA Tour against the best players in the world. We all know why everyone’s playing in London this week, it’s boatloads of cash and it’s money up front and I get it.

‘I think they’re thinking very short-term. Some of these guys are younger than me and have their whole careers ahead of them. That’s the thing I don’t get.’

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