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Rory McIlroy fears golf will remain “fractured forever” unless the opportunity to create a more global game is embraced now.
McIlroy recently laid out his dream scenario of a world tour incorporating “corporate America” and Saudi Arabian investment, but one which also elevates historic national Opens in the likes of Australia and South Africa.
The four-time major winner also suggested that LIV Golf could “turn into the IPL (cricket’s Indian Premier League) of golf”, with the Saudi-funded breakaway taking two months of the year to showcase team competition.
However, McIlroy acknowledged the difficulty of getting all factions in golf’s civil war aligned, with Sergio Garcia having already responded to his former Ryder Cup team-mate’s suggestion.
“I don’t think we want to be important for one month. We all deserve more than that,” Garcia said.
Asked about those comments ahead of his title defence in the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, McIlroy said: “Yeah, Sergio feels he deserves a lot of things.
“It’s [about] trying to align interests and I think right now it’s just very, very hard to align everyone’s interests in the game.
“I think what we need to do first is align interests of the players and the business and the fans and the media. And then once you do that, then you can move forward.
“It’s the aligning of interests which is the big key to trying to get to that dream scenario.
“If this global tour somehow comes to fruition in the next few years, could you imagine bringing the best 70 or 80 golfers in the world to India for a tournament?
“I think that would change the game and the perception of the game in a country like that.
“There’s so much opportunity out there to go global with it, and I’ve said this for the last few months, but golf is at an inflection point, and if golf doesn’t do it now, I fear that it will never do it and we’ll have this fractured landscape forever.”
McIlroy is seeking a record fourth victory in this week’s event after holding off Patrick Reed in controversial circumstances 12 months ago.
The pair had begun the week embroiled in a war of words after Reed threw a tee towards McIlroy after being snubbed by him on the practice range.
With McIlroy watching from the tee, Reed also became involved in another rules controversy in the third round when his tee shot on the 17th lodged in a palm tree.
The former Masters champion and rules officials used binoculars to identify the ball, allowing Reed to take a penalty drop near the base of the tree instead of having to return to the tee.
Reed insisted he was “100 per cent” sure that he could identify his ball, although television footage appeared to cast doubt on which tree it had landed in.
“I remember standing on the 10th tee [in the final round] and I think Patrick had just made eagle and I’m just like (dropping head), ‘Had to be him’,” McIlroy recalled.
“But I think just the mental fortitude I showed on that back nine to not let my emotions get the better of me and really stay focused, and yeah, just to make that birdie on the last to win by one, it meant a lot to me.”