“Let's not use this as an opportunity to pile on. It's time for me and others to abandon our hostilities and work toward a positive future,” said LIV's Phil Mickelson in response to Rory McIlroy's remarks; golf year starts on Thursday at The Sentry – live on Sky Sports Golf at 6pm
Last updated: 04/01/24 1:07 p.m.
Phil Mickelson welcomed Rory McIlroy's softened stance on LIV and said it was “time for me and others to abandon our hostilities and work towards a positive future” for golf.
Amid ongoing discussions between established golf tours and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, LIV Golf's backers, over a deal to unify the sport, McIlroy, who has been a staunch critic of the breakaway series and players who initially joined in 2022, said he had now “accepted” that LIV was now “part of our sport”.
Speaking on the Stick to Football Podcast with Sky BetMcIlroy also admitted he made a “mistake” by being “too critical” in his outspoken opinions of those who initially defected, a group of high-profile players that included six-time major champion Mickelson.
Two-time major champion Jon Rahm became the latest big name to join LIV, signing up in December.
“Let us not use this as an opportunity to overdo it. Instead, it is time for me and others to abandon our hostilities and work toward a positive future.
“Rahm's signing turns into a bridge to bring the two sides together, as evidenced by the many comments today and a month ago regarding changing the Ryder Cup rules so that Jon and others can play, so let's use it as such.
“Until an agreement is reached, things will continue as usual for both parties, but hopefully without unnecessary disdain.”
Masters champion Rahm's defection to LIV from 2024 appears to coincide with a change in McIlroy's public stance.
“Jon didn’t get the same heat as the first guys,” McIlroy said on the podcast.
“I think Jon is smart. And I think he sees things falling into place at some point. I thought it was a smart business decision. It was opportunistic.
“I have no problem with Jon coming if that's what he wants to do. Who am I to say otherwise?”
McIlroy 'would like' LIV to be 'golf's IPL'
McIlroy also suggested that he would like to see LIV become similar to what the Indian Premier League (IPL) is to cricket.
He said the creation of the Saudi-backed league had “exposed some of the flaws” in professional golf, which he now hoped could be corrected in time.
“For me, what I would like LIV to become is almost the IPL of golf,” McIlroy said. “IPL cricket, they take two months off the schedule.
“You have your four weeks in May and your four weeks in November and you do this team stuff and it’s a little bit different and it’s a different format.
“If they were to do something like that, I would say 'yeah, that looks fun' because you're at least working within the ecosystem. It's not like the Saudis in football are trying to take over the entire sport.
“The Saudis have exposed some of the flaws in the structures of professional golf and they could bring in $1 or $2 billion, which couldn't even buy you a football club in some cases. But they have been able to completely disrupt our game with this money.
Get the best prices and book a round at one of over 1,700 courses across the UK and Ireland.