Rory McIlroy dismisses Masters 'asterisk' idea and pushes LIV patience

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Rory McIlroy dismisses Masters 'asterisk' idea and pushes LIV patience

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland speaks to the media prior to The Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches at PGA National Resort And Spa
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland speaks to the media prior to The Cognizant Classic in The Palm Beaches at PGA National Resort And SpaProfimedia
Rory McIlroy (34) dismissed talk of an "asterisk" on any Masters triumph over missing LIV Golf talent and said on Wednesday that patience is needed to solve the PGA-LIV divide.

The four-time major winner from Northern Ireland, who can complete a career Grand Slam by winning April's Masters, spoke on the eve of the opening round of the PGA Tour's Cognizant Classic at PGA National.

McIlroy reacted to comments from 2023 LIV Golf season champion Talor Gooch to Australian Golf Digest that ripped the Masters as diminished for not having more LIV talent due to the Saudi-backed upstart series not getting world ranking points.

"If Rory McIlroy goes and completes his Grand Slam without some of the best players in the world, there's just going to be an asterisk," Gooch told the magazine.

McIlroy, ranked second in the world, said Augusta National will do whatever it takes to ensure the Masters has a world-class field every year.

"The asterisk - look, the Masters is an invitational and they'll invite whoever they think warrants an invite," McIlroy said.

He cited the special invitation the Masters issued to LIV's Joaquin Niemann of Chile, who won last December's Australian Open and LIV Golf's 2024 opener at Mexico and played in events at Dubai and Oman.

"He has been chasing his tail around the world to play his way into Augusta or show enough form to warrant an invite," McIlroy said. "I don't know if the same can be said for Talor."

Nevertheless, McIlroy said he was willing to give the American the benefit of the doubt about his comments.

"I feel like whoever did the interview led him down that path to say that, so I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt there a little bit," McIlroy said. "He just agreed with what the interviewer asked."

McIlroy withdrew from the player panel of policymakers who are in talks to hammer out a PGA merger with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) from a controversial framework agreement unveiled last June.

He preached patience for a deal that has gone well beyond an original deadline of last December to unify the PGA and the series that lured away many of its big name players.

"Because it has gotten so divided, there's going to have to be a lot of patience on both sides to try to come to some sort of resolution," McIlroy said.

"I think it would be best for the game is we all came back together. The longer you go with not all the best players competing against each other regularly, I just think the fans lose out and interest in the game wanes a little bit -- and that's no good for anyone."

Rory to LIV? Who knows?

Andrew "Chubby" Chandler, McIlroy's former manager, said earlier this month there was a chance McIlroy could jump to LIV.

"I think he's writing a book, so there is that," McIlroy said. "I spoke to Chubby, might have seen him in the Middle East at the start of the year.

"Never know. He might know a few things. Who knows?"

McIlroy, 34, has mellowed on LIV, having steadfastly rebuked the upstart series before adopting a softer stance in the wake of third-ranked Jon Rahm's LIV jump last December.

When it came to Chandler saying McIlroy had a 10% chance of going to LIV, the star himself put the odds at "Somewhere in the middle maybe. Who knows?"

When it came to how long he will play, McIlroy said he might be "at the turn" in his career.

"I turned pro in '07. What is this, my 17th year? Another 17 I'll be 51. I would say I'm pretty close to the turn at this point, if not a little bit after - maybe on the 10th green or 11th tee," McIlroy said.

McIlroy hinted one thing could change his plans - "Or a green jacket and just walk away."

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