'I still hate LIV' - Rory McIlroy admits merger is better for golf despite being 'sacrificial lamb'

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Rory McIlroy admitted he felt like a "sacrificial lamb" and still "hated" LIV Golf as he responded to the shock declaration of peace in golf's civil war.

McIlroy and Tiger Woods had established themselves as the biggest supporters of the PGA Tour in its battle with LIV Golf, but were both kept in the dark about the stunning deal announced on Tuesday.

Fellow players reacted with surprise and a sense of betrayal at the news that the PGA Tour and DP World Tour were merging their commercial operations with the golf-related businesses of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), which bankrolls LIV.

McIlroy, whose previously close friendship with Sergio Garcia broke down after the Spaniard joined LIV, said: "It's hard for me to not sit up here and feel somewhat like a sacrificial lamb and feeling like I've put myself out there and this is what happens.

"Removing myself from the situation, I see how this is better for the game of golf, there's no denying it."

McIlroy, who said he was never offered any money to join LIV, was asked if those who did turn down massive offers should be compensated.

The world number three said: "The simple answer is yes. The complex answer is how does that happen?

"That's all up in the air at the minute. For me as an individual, there's just going to have to be conversations that are had."

McIlroy attempted to distinguish between the PIF and LIV Golf, insisting the PGA Tour and DP World Tour had not merged with the latter.

"It's not LIV. I still hate LIV. I hope it goes away and I would fully expect that it does," he said. "That's where the distinction here is. This is the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and the PIF, very different from LIV.

"Whether you like it or not, the PIF and the Saudis want to spend money in the game of golf and they weren't going to stop. This is the one thing that I've always thought about, how can we get that money into the game, but use it the right way?

"And I think that's what this ultimately will do, hopefully. I mean, that's my hope."

McIlroy previously said there was a "morality" to his decision not to compete in the Saudi International when it was a DP World Tour event and was asked if he felt uncomfortable with Saudi Arabia's growing influence in global sports.

"I've just resigned myself to the fact that this is what's going to happen," he said in a press conference ahead of his title defence in the RBC Canadian Open.

"It's very hard to keep up with people that have more money than anyone else. And, again, if they want to put that money into the game of golf, then why don't we partner with them and make sure that it's done in the right way. And that's sort of where my head's at."

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