January 25, 2024

Rory McIlroy suffers major LIV Golf blow as Ryder Cup pal set for Saudi switch | Golf | Sport

Rory McIlroy is set to lose yet another Ryder Cup teammate to LIV Golf, with Tyrrell Hatton expected to become the latest star to make the Saudi switch. Since forming in June 2022, the LIV setup has been able to lure in some of Europe’s biggest names with its mega-money contracts.

Four of McIlroy’s closest allies in Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood were part of the first wave of big names to defect. In the aftermath there is no doubt the Northern Irishman’s relationship with his former Ryder Cup teammates has been dented too, amid his anti-LIV stance.

One of the latest who also followed suit was LIV’s biggest coup yet, after Jon Rahm signed a deal worth a reported £450 million last month. Alongside McIlroy, Rahm helped lead Europe to an emphatic 16.5-11.5 Ryder Cup win over the Americans last October.

Just eight weeks later, Rahm opted to follow in the footsteps of Poulter and co, which no doubt have been a tough pill to swallow for McIlroy. With the opening LIV event of the year just one week away, it appears McIlroy is set to lose another pal too in Hatton.

According to Sports Illustrated, the Englishman’s move to the breakaway league is said to be ‘close’ but is yet to be completed. Hatton’s decision will have come as a shock to many, after he revealed at last week’s Dubai Desert Classic – won by McIlroy – that he was happy as he was on the PGA and DP World Tours.

Speaking days ago, he told reporters: “I’m quite happy playing the PGA Tour and DP World Tour,” asked if this meant he would not be leaving the two circuits, he added: “As of right now, yeah.”

Hatton did however confirm that discussions had been held with LIV bosses. He commented: “I’d say there’s several people who have had conversations [with LIV]. I think that’s part and parcel of golf at the moment but I’m quite happy playing the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.


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