Rory McIlroy strikes at the “two-faced” LIV Rebels as Brooks Koepka becomes the last to flee the ship

The battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf took a strange and sad new turn yesterday as, for the first time, a golfer had to take to social media to proactively announce why he was pulling out of the tournament.

oh seriously.

“Before rumors spread, I figured WD would heal and rest my back, which I set up earlier this week,” World No. 5 and PGA Champion Justin Thomas wrote after withdrawing from the Traveler Championship.

“Just to make sure I take care of it and prepare for the rest of the PGA season as planned.”

I hate to disappoint everyone, but players have been pulling out of tournaments for decades and will do so for a long time to come.

But it’s a funny reflection on how far this circus has come. Every tiny player action is micro-analyzed to determine if they’re about to step out of line and jump into bed with the Saudis. Players can no longer sneeze unless “sources” confirm they wiped their nose with a $100 bill.

The worst civil war in golf has reached its most farcical stage, and now it has overwhelmed the players as well. And this is not a reference to Brooks Koepka’s veiled criticism that the media is focusing too much on the LIV series ahead of the US Open.

Yes, it will be the same Koepka who just jumped ship and will take his seat next to Brother Chase at next week’s LIV event in Oregon.

Rather, it’s a reference to how players – those genuinely anti-LIV – are starting to become disillusioned with their fellow pros.

According to sources, Koepka has been privately telling other people that he is not leaving the PGA Tour as early as last week. Chances are the four-time Major champion will never reveal if he was a deliberate scam or if he was lured to his side by Greg Norman very quickly – or more realistically, money – but if it’s the latter, the contract was signed very quickly. right.

But at least Koepke didn’t have the guts to make a declaration of his PGA Tour allegiance, only to turn around weeks later and give it up “for the sake of the game.” Yes, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau, we’re looking at you.

LIV Golf doesn’t just tear the fabric of golf as we know it, it breaks relationships within the sport. It doesn’t take any Nostradamus-like foresight to see golf heading fast for war between us and them – if it hasn’t reached that stage yet.

– I am surprised? repeated Rory McIlroy when asked about Cap’s defection on the eve of the Traveler’s Championship in Connecticut.

“Yes, because of what he said earlier. I think that’s why a lot of these guys surprise me, because they say one thing and do another, and I don’t get it.

“But it’s pretty duplicitous of them to say one thing and do another.”

This is the disappointment. Players understand why others accept big money offers: they have families to take care of, and the chance to get multimillion-dollar money for hitting a small ball around the field – as Scotty Sheffler, world number one succinctly put it, it’s easy. way to provide.

Even outside of golf, we saw an opportunity to position ourselves as a global force in our sport that is hard to pass up. Just ask Manchester City or Paris Saint-Germain.

Hell, McIlroy himself signed a $125 million deal with the Nike brand in 2013. Now he can retire and live in five-star comfort for the rest of his life without lifting a finger.

No, anger stems from lies and lack of loyalty. The players, as individual contractors, form bonds during the tour that they think means something. These bonds are now as loose as ever.

As for McIlroy, he was at the forefront of trying to fix them. But in the end, fighting an enemy that fights with dollars, not words, takes its toll, as does playing your own golf.

“I have to say, after the board meeting (Tuesday) my head hit the pillow and I was out. Mental fatigue after a five-hour board meeting and trying to resolve some of these issues, ”he admitted.

“But I think that the three weeks that I played, for example, Memorial, this is a very demanding golf course. Canada hasn’t been that demanding, but when you get into arguments and play like this on the weekend, it takes a lot of your energy. And then you follow that up with the US Open.

“So I think it’s a combination of everything. Mentally, I’m fine. But four weeks in a row is a rarity for me now. It’s been a long time since I’ve played as a four and you start to remember why.”

It is hoped that this will remain in the past and in the future after the PGA Tour launched its Hail Mary Plan against LIV – a restructured calendar year schedule with an updated playoff format and increased prize pool.

As a board member, McIlroy has been involved in the discussion, and he hopes these changes will satisfy those who could potentially get their attention elsewhere.

“It’s hard when you’re trying to make some members happy. You’re trying to give top performers a vacation and off-season, mostly because they say they want to,” the 33-year-old actor added.

“You want to give them a break during the FedExCup season. I think in the last few years a lot of the top players have struggled with only wanting to play one or two fall tournaments, but by January they feel like they’re way behind so they feel like they’re forced to play a little more.

“I think having a FedExCup season in a calendar year, like January through August, would be a good idea. So it gives the guys the option to play if they want to play in the fall or if they don’t want to play in the fall, they don’t need to, they’re not forced, it won’t matter. anyway.”