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Rory McIlroy dials down LIV Golf rhetoric: I was being too judgemental

Rory McIlroy admitted that he was perhaps too harsh in his snap judgements of players who joined breakaway tour LIV Golf.

McIlroy took a strident position against the big-money venture, which tempted a host of top names with lavish paydays and disrupted the established order of the PGA and European tours.

The Northern Irishman became the de facto voice of opposition to the project, which has continued to divide the sport, and said during last year's Ryder Cup in Rome that the likes of Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter would miss being part of the European team more than they would be missed.

Now, with talks ongoing to agree a merger between the rival parties, McIlroy has taken a tentative step towards rapprochement.

Speaking to Sky Bet's Stick to Football podcast, he said: "I think at this point, I was maybe a little judgemental of the guys who went to LIV Golf at the start.

"I think it was a bit of a mistake on my part because I now realise that not everyone is in my position or in Tiger Wood's position. I can't judge people for making that decision, so if I regret anything, it was probably being too judgemental at the start.

"I wouldn't say I've lost the fight against LIV, but I've just accepted the fact that this is part of our sport now.

"At the end of the day, we're professional golfers and we play to make a living and make money, so I understand it."

McIlroy remains unhappy at those who criticised the established tours after leaving, but did accept that the Saudi intervention did shine a light on problems that had gone overlooked for too long.

"I don't begrudge anyone for going and taking the money and doing something different, but don't try to burn the place down on your way out," he added.

"When people have played that for 15 or 20 years, and then they jump to LIV and start talking crap about where they've come from, that is what bothers me, because they wouldn't be in this position if they didn't have the career they've had so far.

"I think what LIV has done… it's exposed some of the flaws in the system and hopefully golf will have a look at more.

"If we're going to ask these people (sponsors) for so much money, we need to be able to guarantee them what they're getting.

"Part of the stuff that we've been trying to do for the last two years is figure out how we can try and bring golf back together again and learn from some of the things that have happened."

Jon Rahm became the latest high-profile LIV acquisition within weeks of helping Europe to victory in a Ryder Cup triumph in Rome, a move McIlroy chalked up as a calculated move against the backdrop of negotiations between the rival tours.

"I thought it was a smart business move from Jon – it's opportunistic," he said.

"(He) hasn't got any of the heat for going like the first guys got for going. Jon is a smart guy and I think he sees things coming together at some point so he's thinking that he'll take the up-front money, which is his prerogative, and if things come together he'll play LIV for a year then come back to play on the tour."

READ MORE: Patrick Cantlay declares fielty to PGA Tour as LIV Golf negotiations drag on

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