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McIlroy unimpressed by Saudi event line-up

Rory McIlroy has dismissed the field for the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series as “nothing to jump up and down about” and said players joining the Saudi-funded breakaway circuit shouldn’t face severe punishment.

There has been speculation that golfers who defect to the Greg Norman-led Series could face lifetime bans from both the European and PGA Tours but McIlroy feels such action would be too harsh.

“I certainly don’t think they should drop the hammer,” McIlroy told reporters ahead of the PGA Tour’s Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio.

“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.”

The June 9-11 LIV Golf event in St Albans, outside London, is headlined by Dustin Johnson, who at world No.13 is the highest-ranked player in a field that currently includes 26 of the top 150 golfers in the world.

Among the other notable names competing are 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia, 2010 British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen and former US Open champions Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer.

“I certainly don’t think the field is anything to jump up and down about,” said McIlroy.

McIlroy, who already expressed his allegiance to the PGA Tour, said he has some friends playing the LIV Golf event and when asked if they had any desire to keep competing on the PGA Tour, the 33-year-old Northern Irishman paused before answering.

“Not really, I guess. You know, you have some guys in a position where they are literally not guaranteed a job next year,” said McIlroy.

“It’s hard to stay in the top-125 out here, especially when you’re a guy in your 40s and maybe you don’t hit the ball as far as you used to.”

All seven regular season LIV Golf events this year will have a $US25 million ($A35 million) purse where all players are paid out, including $US4 million ($A5.6 million) for the winner.

The season-ending event will feature a $US30 million ($A42 million) purse.

According to McIlroy, that type of money proved too enticing to turn down for those in the latter stages of their careers.

“It’s a young man’s game nowadays,” said McIlroy.

“So someone that isn’t guaranteed their Tour card next year, another entity comes along and says, we’ll guarantee you this amount for three years, plus you’re playing for a ton more prize money, and you’re playing less events, you can spend more time with your family.

“I mean, whenever you sit down and look at some of those things, you know, it’s very appealing to some of those guys that are in that position.”

Meanwhile, Royal Bank of Canada has cut its business relationships with Johnson and McDowell over the players’ association with the new event.

“As a result of the decisions made by professional golfers Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell to play the LIV Golf Invitational Series opener, RBC is terminating its sponsorship agreement with both players,” the banking giant said in a statement to Sportico.

“We wish them well in their future endeavours.”

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