Rory McIlroy hopes to see unity in professional golf after 'ugly year'

World No 2 returns to the Old Course at St Andrews for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, two months after narrowly missing out on winning the Open

Rory McIlroy during a practice round prior to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the Old Course St. Andrews. Getty
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Rory McIlroy has called for professional golf to become "cohesive again" after an "ugly year" that has seen divisions grow between the established PGA and DP World Tours and the breakaway LIV Series.

The Saudi-backed LIV Series has caused turmoil since its June debut, with record purses and financial guarantees luring several top players away from the PGA Tour.

Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, and Phil Mickelson were among the players who joined LIV Golf.

The PGA Tour responded by issuing gave indefinite bans to any members who joined LIV, and some of the players counter-responded by filing an anti-trust lawsuit.

McIlroy, the world No 2, has been an outspoken critic of the impact LIV has had on professional golf, aiming much of his ire at the players who have opted to switch to the series while still attempting to maintain playing rights on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.

However, the four-time major winner from Northern Ireland, believes a way out of the current impasse is possible.

"Right now with two lawsuits going on, and how heightened the rhetoric has been, I think we just need to let it cool off a little bit," McIlroy, 33, told the BBC at St Andrews on Wednesday ahead of this week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

"It has been an ugly year but there is a solution to everything. If we can send rockets to the moon and bring them back again and have them land on their own I'm sure we can figure out how to make professional golf cohesive again."

This week will see McIlroy's first appearance on the Old Course at St Andrews since July, when he narrowly missed out on winning the Open.

McIlroy shared the lead with Viktor Hovland heading into the final round but, despite shooting 70, the 2014 British Open champion was unable to lift the Claret Jug again with Australia's Smith coming from four strokes behind to triumph.

Despite that disappointment, McIlroy responded by winning the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup play-off series.

"I feel like time and time again, I've been able to bounce back from some adversity," said McIlroy, who has also finished second and fourth on his last two DP World (European) Tour appearances.

Unlike most golf tournaments, which are played on just the one course, the Dunhill Links features rounds at the nearby venues of Kingsbarns and Carnoustie as well as two at St Andrews, while its pro-am format will see McIlroy partnered by his father.

Updated: September 29, 2022, 4:14 AM