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How will LIV players be integrated back on PGA Tour and DP World Tour after shock new partnership?

Rory McIlroy's pre-tournament preparations ahead of the RBC Canadian Open saw him fielding questions about the shock deal between golf's main tours; Justin Rose and Matt Fitzpatrick both warned of the challenge ahead in integrating LIV golfers back on the PGA Tour

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After his opening round at the Canadian Open, Rory McIlroy admits his press conference to address the PGA-LIV merger was the most uncomfortable he's felt in the past year

Rory McIlroy was relieved to be back focusing on his own game after the staggering announcement from golf’s tours left for an “uncomfortable” experience ahead of the RBC Canadian Open.

The sporting world was left stunned by Tuesday's news that the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Public Investment Fund (PIF) - who bankroll LIV Golf - were creating a newly formed commercial operation to unify the sport, a year on from the launch of the Saudi-backed series.

McIlroy, who has regularly spoken out in support of golf's traditional tours over the past 12 months, only found out the news a few hours before the story broke and admitted to feeling like a "sacrificial lamb" in his role to try and fend off the challenge from LIV Golf.

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Watch all the key moments from Rory McIlroy's action-packed press conference following the announcement of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf

The world No 3 - chasing a third consecutive Canadian victory - mixed five birdies with four bogeys during an opening-round 71 at Oakdale Golf & Country Club in Toronto, where McIlroy tried to move on from a remarkable week for the sport.

"The most uncomfortable I've felt in the last 12 months was my press conference yesterday," McIlroy admitted on Thursday. "I would say my energy levels on Tuesday and Wednesday were diminishing quite quickly.

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Rory McIlroy says he feels for those who rejected approaches from LIV golf and took the decision to stay on the PGA Tour

"I wouldn't say I viewed the PGA Tour as through that altruism lens per se. At the end of the day, this is business and my job is playing golf. So the more that I can focus on that and focus on the birdies and the bogeys instead of the stuff that's happened in the board room, I'll be much happier."

Mcllroy was playing alongside Justin Rose, who posted an opening-round 69, with the pair failing in their pursuit to avoid talking about the week's shock news during their round.

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Rory McIlroy says the headlines have misinterpreted the influence of LIV in the new structure and says the PGA can now control how PIF money is used

"Rosie [Justin Rose] and I said, 'all right, no chatting until lunch' so that we can actually concentrate on what we're doing out there," McIlroy added.

"We started to get in a conversation walking down the first and we're like, 'No, let's stop this. Let's just focus on our golf and we'll say what we want to say when we get inside'."

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Paul McGinley admits there is so much to untangle from the shock merger between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf

Rose: Golf merger will 'need some massaging'

Rose admitted post-round that he initially questioned whether news of the agreement was a prank, given the turbulent past year for the sport, with the former world No 1 not expecting immediate harmony within the sport.

"The news was definitely left field," Rose said. "The headline seems like it's just going to be this very smooth transition and 'come on back, boys, it's all done now'. I don't think that's the case. I still think I'm happy where I am. I'd probably be more concerned if I was on LIV right now than on the PGA Tour.

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"We're looking for a harmonious world of golf. This is what I think this is designed to achieve. That's not going to be overnight. Obviously there's a lot of players that you guys want to watch play golf, who we know are on LIV. They've got a lot to offer the game of golf. I think just because they made a certain decision doesn't mean they're outcasts forever.

"I don't know what the protocols will be, to be honest with you. I think there would be if it's just a straight, 'hey, boys, come on back', that's not going to sit well with anybody out here necessarily. So I'm sure it's going to need some massaging to get it right.

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Two-time defending champion Rory McIlroy shot one-under par in his opening round at the Canadian Open

"There's a lot of guys that have gone to LIV that, I don't even know what's going to happen, obviously, but they have sacrificed a lot as well in terms of ranking and all these times of things. So there might not be such an easy step for a few of them if that's the case."

LIV Golf members will have option to re-apply for membership with the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour following the completion of the 2023 season, with US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick expecting some players from golf's traditional tours to be disappointed for previously turning down big-money offers to join the rival circuit.

"There's a million and one things going on right now," Fitzpatrick explained. "It's obviously a tough question to answer. I never really got a formal offer [from LIV] anyway. It wasn't something I was interested in from the start. I purely spoke to them purely out of being nosy as to what they're going to do, what they're going to, what's the setup going to be.

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PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan explains why he didn't consult with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy before announcing the merger with LIV Golf

"For me it didn't really make a difference. I was always going to be on the PGA Tour. Obviously for the guys that did turn down significant amounts of money then that's probably a tough one to swallow and I feel for them.

"Whether everyone comes back and plays in the field, I've still got to beat them in front of me. Obviously there's a potential sour taste in there for some guys coming back. But at the end of the day, you're trying to beat the course and that's what I'm going to try and concentrate on."

Watch the RBC Canadian Open throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Early coverage of the second round begins on Friday from midday via the red button, ahead of full coverage from 8pm on Sky Sports Golf.

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