Toronto : "Happy to get back to golf." Northern Irish golfer McIIroy finds solace in game during PGA-LIV uncertainty.

Rory McIIroy admitted it was a relief to get back to playing golf amid the tension and uncertainty sparked by the US PGA Tour's bombshell deal to team up with the Saudi backers of LIV Golf.

'' It was good,'' McIIroy said after firing a one-under par 71 in the first round of the Canadian Open, where the Northern Ireland star is the two-time defending champion.

McIIroy was one of the staunchest critics of the breakaway LIV Golf, which lured top US PGA Tour and DP World Tour stars with signing bonuses and record purses for 54-hole no-cut events that broke with the game's traditions.

When the PGA Tour responded to LIV with a new category of top-tier events aimed at showcasing its marquee players, McIIroy worked to calm fears among lower ranked players that they would be squeezed out - and a contentious players meeting on Tuesday in Toronto showed that the new deal has only stirred up those concerns.

'' The most uncomfortable I've felt in the last 12 months was my press conference yesterday,'' McIIroy said of facing a barrage of questions about when he learned of the deal, what he thought of it and whether he felt PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan had dealt fairly with tour members.

Although McIIroy acknowledged this week that he still ''hates'' LIV and hopes players who defected continue to face consequences, he reiterated on Thursday that the global game is a business and he didn't necessarily expect altruism from the tour.

'' My job is playing golf at the end of the day,'' he said. '' So the more that I can focus on that and focus on the birdies and the bogeys instead of the stuff that has happened in the board room I'll be much happier.''

Monahan reported faced calls to resign this week from players and was handed a hypocrite not only by the tour members but also by families by 9/11 attack survivors, who view Saudi Arabia -

As a key contributor to the 2011 attacks in which hijackers flew planes into the towers of the World Trade Center in New York and other targets, leaving thousands dead. [AFP]


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