Rory McIlroy: PGA Tour shouldn’t sanction ex-LIV players

Rory McIlroy, formerly one of the PGA Tour’s hardline supporters in the face of the challenge presented by LIV Golf, is viewing the players who jumped to the Saudi-backed circuit differently.

The four-time major champion from Northern Ireland no longer wants to see the PGA Tour sanction players who return after joining LIV.

McIlroy said Tuesday in Pebble Beach, Calif., “I think life is about choices. Guys made choices to go and play LIV, guys made choices to stay here. If people still have eligibility on this tour and they want to come back and play or you want to try and do something, let them come back.

“I think it’s hard to punish people. I don’t think there should be a punishment.

“Obviously I’ve changed my tune on that because I see where golf is and I see that having a diminished PGA Tour and having a diminished LIV Tour or anything else is bad for both parties. It would be much better being together and moving forward together for the good of the game. That’s my opinion of it. So to me, the faster that we can all get back together and start to play and start to have the strongest fields possible I think is great for golf.”

Last year, McIlroy declared there should be “consequences to actions” because those who left the PGA Tour for LIV “irreparably harmed this tour.”

The latest player to switch to the new tour was England’s Tyrrell Hatton, who reportedly received more than $60 million from LIV.

McIlroy said of Hatton, “I’ve talked to him quite a bit about it over the past month. It got to the point where they negotiated and got to a place where he was comfortable with, and he has to do what he feels is right for him. So I’m not going to stand in anyone’s way from making … what they deem life-changing money.”

The PGA Tour, Strategic Sports Group and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, which bankroll LIV, reportedly are close to reaching a working agreement that would dictate the future of professional men’s golf.

McIlroy, a former PGA Tour board member, said, “I feel like this thing could have been over and done with months ago. I think just for all of our sakes that the sooner that we sort of get out of it and we have a path forward, the better.”