Rory McIlroy skips US Open media duty with PIF merger still in headlines

McIlroy said his press conference at last week’s Canadian Open was “the most uncomfortable I’ve felt in the last 12 months”.

Phil Casey
Tuesday 13 June 2023 21:04 BST
Rory McIlroy speaking at the Canadian Open (Nathan Denette/AP)
Rory McIlroy speaking at the Canadian Open (Nathan Denette/AP)

Days after describing his press conference before the Canadian Open as the “most uncomfortable” he has felt for a year, Rory McIlroy made sure to avoid a similar situation at the US Open.

McIlroy was due to speak to the media at 9am local time on Tuesday at Los Angeles Country Club, but informed tournament officials on Sunday he wished to cancel.

The four-time major winner is also currently not scheduled to speak on Wednesday ahead of the year’s third major championship, which he won at Congressional in 2011.

Speaking ahead of his title defence in the Canadian Open, 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 last week.

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.”

Asked following his opening round if he felt more pressure on the golf course or off it, McIlroy said: “Off. You know, the most uncomfortable I’ve felt in the last 12 months was my press conference yesterday.”

McIlroy will partner another LIV player and US PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka in the first two rounds in Los Angeles, along with former Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama.

On Tuesday the world number three was listed as starting a solo practice round at 6.45am local time, during which time he did speak to the Golf Channel about his on-course strategy.

McIlroy said: “It gives you room off the tee. I think every shot gives you room but if you miss it it’s very, very penal.

“It’s an unusual golf course, the way it’s laid out as well. You’ve got five par threes, three par fives and the driveable par-four sixth, so for me it’s like ‘Can I get nine good tee shots away?

“If I can get nine good tee shots away, keep sixes off my card, I think that really is the key to this place.”

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