Rory McIlroy: LIV Golf field for London event isn't 'anything to jump up and down about'

Rory McIlroy: LIV Golf field for London event isn't 'anything to jump up and down about'

The LIV Golf Invitational Series is getting ready to host its first event, and the Saudi-backed competitor for the PGA Tour got a big win on Tuesday when it was revealed that Dustin Johnson would participate in it.

Johnson is the 13th-ranked golfer in the world and once was the No. 1 overall golfer. He is among the most recognizable names in golf, so landing him helped to strengthen the field for LIV Golf’s first event in London.

But not enough to impress Rory McIlroy.

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McIlroy was asked about the LIV Golf field ahead of this weekend’s Memorial Tournament at Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village Golf Club. The No. 8-ranked golfer in the world threw a bit of shade at the field even despite Johnson’s confirmed participation in the event.

“I certainly don’t think the field is anything to jump up and down about,” McIlroy said at a news conference, via ESPN. “Look at the field this week. Look at the field next week in Canada. They are proper golf tournaments.”

Indeed, the field for LIV Golf’s first event isn’t looking all that strong. There are 42 golfers set to participate in it, but only four are ranked inside the top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR). They are Johnson (13), Louis Oosthuizen (20), Kevin Na (33) and Talor Gooch (35).

MORE: Full LIV Golf field for inaugural event in London

So, the PGA Tour seems to be retaining most of its talent, and that is thanks in part to its policy regarding the LIV Golf Series. The tour won’t allow golfers that defect and play for LIV Golf to play on the PGA Tour.

“As communicated to our entire membership on May 10, PGA Tour members have not been authorized to participate in the Saudi Golf League’s London event, under PGA Tour Tournament Regulations,” the tour said in a statement Wednesday. “Members who violate the Tournament Regulations are subject to disciplinary action.”

The “disciplinary action” mentioned in the statement could include fines, suspensions or even bans from the PGA Tour. Thus, most of the higher-ranked golfers in the world aren’t willing to risk leaving the tour.

MORE: Why Jack Nicklaus turned down $100 million offer to run LIV Golf Series

McIlroy is among those staying put, but he didn’t criticize those who are planning to play in London. As such, he’s hoping that the PGA Tour will refrain from heavy sanctions against the golfers who play in the LIV Golf events.

“I certainly don’t think they should drop the hammer,” McIlroy said. “Look, they are well within their rights to enforce the rules and regulations that have been set. But it’s going to end up being an argument about what those rules and regulations are. I have some very close friends that are playing in this event in London, and I certainly wouldn’t want to stand in their way for them to do what they feel is right for themselves.

“It’s not something that I would do personally. But I certainly understand why some of the guys have [decided to play in London], and it’s something that we are all just going to keep an eye on and see what happens over these next few weeks.”