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Rory McIlroy questions quality of LIV Invitational Golf Series field - but understands lure for players

Rory McIlroy says he no longer plays golf for money but understands why players are attracted to the lucrative Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series, the first event of which takes place at Centurion Club between June 9 and 11

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Rory McIlroy says he was surprised by a couple of names who have signed up for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series but feels the field is nothing to 'jump up and down about'

Rory McIlroy says the field for the opening LIV Golf Invitational Series event "is nothing to jump and down about" compared to line-ups on the PGA Tour.

Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen and Ian Poulter are among the 42 players confirmed to take part in next week's Saudi-funded event in Hertfordshire.

McIlroy said there were a "couple of surprises in there" when asked about the competition ahead of his appearance at the PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament in Ohio this week.

The inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series event at Centurion Club boasts a prize fund of £20m, with £3m awarded to the winner. McIlroy understands people, especially older golfers, playing for money but says that is no longer "something that I would do".

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The Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series begins next week in Hertfordshire, with Dustin Johnson a surprise inclusion in the field

The four-time major winner said: "I certainly don't think the field is anything to jump up and down about.

"Look at the field this week [at the Memorial Tournament]. Look at the field next week in Canada. They are proper golf tournaments.

"I have some very close friends that are playing in this event and I certainly wouldn't want to stand in their way for them to do what they feel is right for themselves.

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"It's certainly not something I would do personally. But I certainly understand why some of the guys have gone.

"When I turned pro, I was playing for money. All I wanted to do was get my tour card and make a living playing golf. You need a job and you need to make money to buy yourself a house.

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Paul McGinley says Dustin Johnson's decision to take part in the opening Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series event could prove to be an 'historic moment in the game'

"Do I play golf for money now? No. My situation has changed over the years. But when I started playing the game professionally, yeah, money was at the top of the list.

"Some guys are in a position where they are not guaranteed a job next year. It's hard to stay in the top 125, especially when you're in your 40s and maybe don't hit the ball as far as you've used to. As we've seen, it's a young man's game nowadays.

"So if 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, you're playing fewer events and you can spend more time with your family it's very appealing to some of those guys that are in that position.

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"Again, I'm not in that position, and it's not something that I would do. But you have to try to put yourself in other people's shoes and see where they are coming from."

The LIV Golf event in Hertfordshire between June 9 and 11 clashes with the PGA Tour's Canadian Open, which was won by McIlroy when it was previously staged in 2019.

The PGA and DP World Tours have rejected requests from players to compete at Centurion Club and golfers who do feature could face bans.

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World No 1 Scottie Scheffler says he fully understands why the PGA Tour has denied players permission to play in next week's Saudi Golf Series in Hertfordshire

When asked whether the PGA Tour should "drop the hammer" in terms of severe punishments, McIlroy said: "I certainly don't think they should.

"Look, they are well within their rights to enforce the rules and regulations that have been set. But there's going to end up being an argument about what those rules and regulations are."

Watch The Memorial Tournament live on Sky Sports Golf from 12pm on Thursday, via the red button. Coverage commences on the main Sky Sports Golf channel from 5pm.

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