Rory McIlroy, in one sentence, hits Saudi-backed LIV Golf where it hurts

Rory McIlroy hits the tee on Saturday at the 17th hole in St. George.

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Enjoy Rory McIlroy. And he was amused.

Over the coming weeks, months, and possibly years, you’ll hear a lot about “entertainment.” But wait as you say. Don’t know the show you’re watching when you flip golf or pass through the gate? This is correct. You won’t see submersion or subsidence, although now you can sometimes see Charles Barclay and Tom Brady. However, that doesn’t mean you have to sit on sparrows and eagles, and that’s the message to be spun from that crowd hoping to turn golf on its head, the LIV Golf Invitational Series. On Saturday, they completed their first ever spin and along the way drew gun starts and neon-colored leaderboards that allowed for video game captures and big cash prizes.

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Say what you can, but it’s all different and makes you curious. But some things are at play here, too. One is the last element, money, which you have undoubtedly heard about by now, although we will repeat it. LIV funding is based in Saudi Arabia, and LIV’s biggest name made it clear what that meant when Phil Mickelson told biographer Alan Shipnuck that his supporters were “scary MF’ers.” Thousands are still watching LIV in action this weekend, and here we are.

Which then brings us to the actual game of golf. In London, LIV Charles Schwarzl crowned its first ever champion. CBS’ Jim Nantz described his latest resume this way on Saturday: “Charles Schwarzel, with his first win of any kind in six years, ranked 126th in the world, was the winner of the 54-hole event on the Saudi-backed Tour. . . . ” is where we will notice that lower ranked players often win events, although Henny de Plessis (#133 in the world), Branden Grace (#123) and Peter Oehlen (#327) came right behind Schwarzl. ).

And the competition? At the Canadian Open, this week’s PGA Tour stoppage, Saturday’s third-round leaderboard was as follows: 1, Tony Finau; 1, Rory McIlroy; 3, Justin Thomas; 3, Sam Burns. The top three will all be in the same final group on Sunday. You don’t have to scroll far to find their ranking: Finau is the lowest. at 18.

And the actual spokesperson for the tour did the math during this exchange:

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Reporter for McIlroy: “With everything that has happened in the golf world this week, is there anything in that that would make tomorrow’s win seem sweeter or perhaps more important?”

McIlroy told the reporter: “Not necessarily. Every win is sweet, every win counts. I don’t think personally, to me, that it would be great to win, but I think the success of this tournament anyway. You look at it there today. I mean it’s definitely the best atmosphere any A golf tournament is taking place this week.

“Yeah, the crowd support is amazing, yeah, I’m pretty sure what’s going to happen in the last 18 holes here will be more entertaining than any other golf played this week anywhere else.”

ouch. This last sentence gets to where it hurts. If you’re a fan of LIV, you’ve got it there. If you’re on the PGA Tour, you’re glad you got a McIlroy. And Thomas. and Finau. and Burns. And a great hockey-themed viewing area this week on the 16th tee in St. George. (Remember, they play in Canada.)

Playing LIV will get better. US Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau has been registered and will play in the next event. On Saturday, Masters winner Patrick Reed and fan favorite Pat Perez confirmed their services. If more lesser-known players benefit, the argument is that more big names could follow.

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Tour-wise, there won’t be a world-class leaderboard every week. And his warts are well known. But this Saturday, where, if you think first impressions are everything and LIV needs to cash in because of it, it was McIlroy who was entertained — by his group at their best.

And Thomas was feeling… cowardly. A reporter asked him this: “At some point today, I think there were seven players in the top 25 in the world standings at the top of the leaderboard; it’s moving a bit. You offer it in terms of entertainment?”

“Yeah, it’s really cool,” said Thomas. “Obviously with everything that’s going on – this week was going to be very special regardless – but I think it just, I mean it makes, I mean, without sounding cheesy, it makes me so happy to see this. There’s nowhere else I’d like to play, and obviously That with a tournament like this and the history it had and how long it played, it had a lot of past champions, places, and drama.

“And it looks like it has the potential tomorrow to make a little more of that and create more history.”

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Nick Piastovsky

Nick Piastovsky

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastovsky is a senior editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native will probably play the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash down his score. You can reach him about any of these topics – his stories, his game, or his beer – at nick.piastowski@golf.com.

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