Multiple reports have indicated that top US winners Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau will join LIV Golf next month for its first US event.

A general view of golfers playing the ninth green during a practice round before the start of the 2022 PGA Championship. Getty Images via AFP

Multiple big winners Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas said on Wednesday the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series was “a disgrace” and “a disappointment” on Wednesday for fracturing the sport in its heyday.

Along with top-ranked Scottie Scheffler, the duo spoke at the US PGA Tour Canadian Open, which kicks off Thursday in LIV Golf’s first competitive event outside of London.

“It’s a shame that it fractures the game,” McIlroy said. “The professional game is the showcase of golf. If the general public doesn’t know who’s playing where and what tournament is going on this week and oh, they’re playing there and they’re not at those events, it gets so confusing.

“Everything has to try to become more cohesive and I think it was on a pretty good trajectory until that happened.”

The upstart series, boasting a combined total prize pool of $255 million across its eight events, has attracted stars such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia.

Multiple reports on Wednesday indicated that big US winners Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau will join LIV Golf next month for its first US event.

In the meantime, the PGA said there would be consequences for those playing in England as the tour refused PGA players to participate in an event opposite this week’s stop at St. George’s. Par 70 Golf and Country Club in Toronto.

“It’s a disappointment,” said Thomas, an American who won his second PGA Championship last month.

“The decision is up to them, but I just hope it doesn’t take away from the great stories and things that happen, on a tour that’s been around for a very long time and is in one of the best places it’s been on. It’s just a shame these guys aren’t in it.

Five of the world’s top 10 are set to play the Canadian Open, which has been wiped out for the past two years due to Covid-19 concerns.

“I would say things here are unaffected,” Scheffler said. “We have the best players in the world. I can’t wait to play them. I don’t really know what’s going on there.”

Eighth-ranked, four-time major winner McIlroy reiterated his support for the US PGA and warned that picks made just for the money tend not to work.

“It’s not something I want to be involved in,” he said. “There is nothing in my schedule, my life, my income or anything that I would change.

“Any decision you make in your life just for the money usually doesn’t end up in a good way.

“It’s a weird time in professional golf. We’re just going to have to see how this season goes and if any other guys decide to go in another direction than the established tours and see what the consequences are.”

‘I’m disappointed’

Thomas, ranked sixth, said he was disappointed with the players who chose the new circuit.

“I don’t hate DJ now. I don’t think he’s a bad guy. I’m not going to treat him any different. He has the right to choose whatever he wants,” Thomas said.

“That doesn’t make him a bad person. Now I’m disappointed and wish he and others hadn’t done it, but it’s their decision.”

McIlroy also wasn’t upset about the players who will be his rivals at next week’s US Open, with the US Golf Association saying on Tuesday that all LIV Golf players who qualified for the Open could play as scheduled.

“I certainly understand the guys who went there. I understand what their goals and ambitions are,” McIlroy said.

“I certainly don’t punch anyone to go. It’s their life. It’s their decision. They can live it how they want. But for me, I want to play on the PGA Tour against the best players in the world.”

Canadian Mackenzie Hughes was upset with LIV Golf’s timing of the Toronto event.

“It stinks,” Hughes said. “There really wouldn’t have been a good timing for that, but as a Canadian, yeah, it’s a little disappointing.

“I think most of the eyes will still be there. The top part of this field is really great.”

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