Golfer Rory McIlroy told reporters at the RBC Canadian Open Wednesday that he was happy about the impending PGA merger with LIV Golf and the PGA European Tour. Though he didn’t like the thought of Saudi Arabian funding in the sport, he expects LIV to be absorbed by pre-existing tours and sees it as an improvement.

“I still hate LIV,” McIlroy said at the Oakdale Golf and Country Club. “Like, I hate LIV. I hope it goes away, and I would fully expect that it does. I think that’s where the distinction here is. This is the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and the PIF, very different from LIV.”

Since the formation of LIV in 2021, McIlroy has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the new tour, which offered exorbitant contracts to top golfers through money provided by the Saudi Arabian government. Some have claimed that the tour was formed in an ongoing effort by the kingdom to sanitize its image on the international stage. Others have complained that the new tour disrupted the traditions and competitive nature of the sport.

McIlroy claims that prominent golfers, including Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau, damaged the game by accepting exorbitant LIV contracts and should be punished for doing so.

“There still has to be consequences to actions,” McIlroy said. “The people that left the PGA Tour irreparably harmed this tour, started litigation against it. Like, we can’t just welcome them back in. That’s not going to happen.”

In a reportedly heated meeting between PGA officials and around 100 players, this issue surrounding defecting LIV players caused an intense debate. If these players, many of which were among the best on the PGA Tour previously, were allowed to return after the merger, many currently competing would be forced to the outskirts despite remaining loyal throughout the process.

Finer points concerning the merger are still being finalized, but most PGA Tour officials are expected to appoint the majority of authority roles in the new, unnamed tour, while the Saudi Public Investment Fund will oversee the merger and fund the venture.

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