'I love it' – Sergio Garcia defends LIV Golf as fracturing sport faces uncertain future

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Sergio Garcia is adamant LIV Golf "is the future" for the sport as the PGA Tour fights to keep its stars out of the clutches of the lucrative Saudi-backed circuit.

It remains to be seen whether players signed up to the new series are kissing goodbye to playing the majors, which would be diminished by the absence of stars such as Garcia, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and new defector Cameron Smith.

The PGA Tour has banned those players from its events for now, though they are still allowed to participate on the DP World Tour – previously known as the European Tour – whose sanctions have been put on hold until a hearing is heard early next year.

Ahead of this weekend's Boston leg of LIV Golf, Garcia told Stats Perform he had no regrets about committing to the controversial series, with the 42-year-old having been one of the first to sign up.

"Yeah, I love it. I think it's great. I think it's getting more and more momentum," the Spaniard said.

"I think that everyone is really enjoying the format and the way we're playing. We all believe that is the future of golf, keeping it fresher, even quicker and all the things that people are asking for. We're very excited about it."

There is a team element as well as individual honours at stake, while each event has so far been contested over 54 holes, rather than 72 as has long been the custom in the men's game. Players are joining on huge signing-on fees, while the level of tournament prize money is also proving appealing.

Saudi Arabia's often-criticised human rights record has led to accusations that LIV Golf is an attempt at 'sportswashing', looking to improve the reputation of a country by investing heavily in a glitzy event featuring widely admired international stars.

Garcia, the 2017 Masters champion, insists he has no problem with where the money behind the series originates.

"I think that a lot of people make business with Saudi Arabia and the government is fine. So there's nothing to do there," Garcia said.

"LIV Golf is international Even this year, with just eight tournaments, we're playing some abroad. Next year coming up, there's going to be a lot more tournaments worldwide. So it definitely is [international]."

Paul Casey, an Englishman who won three PGA Tour titles and added 15 tournament wins on the European Tour, is another who has accepted a big cheque to join LIV Golf.

"I saw the first two events before my first event at Bedminster," Casey said.

He told Stats Perform he was impressed by "the energy", "the youngness of the crowd" and the "passion and excitement for everybody involved".

"This is like a start-up. This is something different," Casey said.

The likes of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have insisted they will not be swayed by the huge sums on offer by LIV Golf, standing steadfastly by the PGA Tour and insisting it is that established circuit that is committed to golf's best interests.

McIlroy, who has played on Ryder Cup teams with Garcia and Casey, spoke recently of his opposition to LIV Golf, saying: "I hate what it's doing to the game of golf."

LIV is pumping enormous funds into the Asian Tour, too, with a host of LIV Golf players set to take part in that circuit's International Series.

Casey said: "A lot is always talked about growth of the game and stuff, and that is still an area where there is massive potential. There's been great growth in the game all over, but there's massive potential on the international front and I think the guys who are out here understand that and they're embracing it, and we'll see.

"I mean, I've always enjoyed playing international golf and enjoy playing golf certainly in Asia. And I'm looking forward to being in Bangkok, in Jeddah.

"There's rumours about maybe Australia or something like that as well coming back for us. So that's going to be pretty cool."