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Rory: LIV defection devalues PGA Tour wins

Photo by Alberto PIZZOLI / AFP

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) — Rory McIlroy says PGA Tour triumphs at venues such as Pebble Beach and Riviera will be devalued in the absence of two-time major winner Jon Rahm and other star players following their defection to LIV Golf.

And the four-time major champion from Northern Ireland says it’s more important to complete a merger between LIV and PGA Tour than it is to sort out punishments for defectors to the Saudi-backed upstart circuit.

Speaking on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s start of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, McIlroy was asked if wins at the California venues were cheapened without Rahm, Dustin Johnson and other top players who jumped to LIV.

“Yeah,” McIlroy said. “I’d like to win here and stand up with a trophy on 18 green and know that I’ve beaten all of the best players in the world, so yeah.”

McIlroy, who spoke of conversations with 2023 Ryder Cup teammates Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton before they signed with LIV Golf, said golf needs to reunite top players even if it delays sorting out any punishment for players who went to LIV but want to play future PGA Tour events.

“Life is about choices. Guys made choices to go and play LIV, guys made choices to stay here. If people still have eligibility on this tour and they want to come back and play, let them come back,” McIlroy said.

“It’s hard to punish people. I don’t think there should be a punishment — obviously I’ve changed my tune on that because I see where golf is and I see that having a diminished PGA Tour and having a diminished LIV Tour or anything else is bad for both parties.”

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