Rory McIlroy agrees with the “common sense” ruling made by a federal judge in California on Tuesday that denied a temporary restraining order to three suspended PGA Tour members who signed with LIV Golf and then sought to play in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
“From my vantage point, common sense prevailed, and I thought it was the right decision,” McIlroy said on Wednesday. “Now that that has happened, I think it just lets us focus on the important stuff, which is golf. We can all move forward and not have that sideshow going on for the next few weeks, which is nice.”
Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford will not play in the FedEx St. Jude Championship when it begins Thursday at TPC Southwind in Memphis, Tenn. PGA Tour and DP World Tour players who have joined LIV Golf have been fined and suspended from playing in PGA Tour events.
Justin Thomas, who won the PGA Championship at Southern Hills in May, also agreed with the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman.
“It was personal to me from the beginning,” Thomas said. “It’s kind of like I said from the start. Those guys were given an opportunity to go play and just go play. You can have your cake, but you don’t need to eat it, too. And they got their fair share of a large, large amount of cake, and go eat it on your own means. You don’t need to bring it onto our tour.”
Thomas said the drama between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf — the Saudi Arabian-backed league being financed by the country’s sovereign wealth fund — has been a distraction.
“It’s unfortunately just taking up the golf world a little bit and taking away from great storylines,” he said. “I think I saw Scottie [Scheffler] came in and did his interview [Tuesday], and I’m sure he got asked about what was going on, and he’s had one of the best seasons of all time.”
Cameron Smith, the No. 2-ranked player in the world who won the British Open at St. Andrews last month, is the latest pro who has been linked to LIV Golf for a lucrative deal.
On Tuesday, the Telegraph reported Smith, a six-time winner on the PGA Tour, will join LIV Golf for $100 million. Smith is playing in the FedEx Cup playoff opener this week.
Last week, 11 players, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour in federal court. Mickelson’s agreement with LIV Golf is worth $200 million, as first reported by The Post’s Mark Cannizzaro.
McIlroy also said on Wednesday that he had more respect for players such as past major champions Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka, who defected to LIV Golf but chose not to sue the PGA Tour or try to come back and play.
“Guys are going to make their own decisions that they feel is best for them, and that’s totally fine,” McIlroy said. “Again, I don’t begrudge anyone for going over to play LIV or taking guaranteed money. If that’s your prerogative and what you want to do, totally fine.
“I think where the resentment comes from, from the membership of this tour, is the fact that they want to try to get their way back in here with no consequences, and anyone that’s read the PGA Tour handbook or abided by the rules and regulations, that would feel very unfair to them.”
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