Rory McIlroy throws a dig — after Sergio Garcia questions his LIV Golf idea

Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy

Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy in 2020.

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They were friends. They then weren’t. But they made up. 

But then Rory McIlroy said Sergio Garcia’s golf league should play just a couple months out of the year. 

And now they’re back to throwing digs.  

The latest came Wednesday, which was in response to a comment made a week ago, and all of it was over the same subject — LIV Golf, the Saudi-backed league that has divided men’s pro golf over its nearly two years of existence. 

And thrown a wedge between two of Europe’s best players over the past quarter century. Perhaps again. 

They’d been buds, too. Garcia had McIlroy as a groomsman in his wedding. McIlroy said he cried when Garcia won the 2017 Masters. All good things. Until:

— Garcia left for LIV. In June of 2022, he played in the series’ first event. 

— A few weeks later, according to a story written by Paul Kimmage of the Irish Independent published in December of 2022, they texted back and forth at the U.S. Open. It wasn’t smiling emojis. Said McIlroy, when asked when his relationship with Garcia started to sour:

“On the Friday of the U.S. Open. I woke up to a text that was sent at 5.30 that morning. He had an early tee time, I didn’t, and I woke up to this text basically telling me to shut up about LIV, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I was pretty offended and sent him back a couple of daggers and that was it.”

— Two months after the story was published, Garcia talked with James Corrigan of the Telegraph. He had a response. Garcia expressed both sadness and anger at how things shook out with McIlroy following the decision to join LIV, even going as far as saying McIlroy was “lacking maturity,” which ultimately severed their friendship.

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“I think it is very sad,” Garcia told Corrigan. “I think that we’ve done so many things together and had so many experiences that for him to throw that away just because I decided to go to a different tour, well, it doesn’t seem very mature; lacking maturity, really.”

Garcia continued: “Rory’s got his own life and he makes his own choices, the same way that I make mine. I respect his choice, but it seems like he doesn’t respect the ones I make. So a one-way street.”

— But then peace? 

At last year’s U.S. Open, which came about a week after the deal between the PGA Tour and LIV’s backer, the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, McIlroy said hi to Garcia’s wife, Angela, according to Golf Digest’s Evin Priest. He texted her, too. 

“That kind of gave me the go-ahead to reach out to him,” Garcia told Priest. 

“I had been thinking about it for a while, but I wasn’t totally sure about it. And when I saw that reaction from him, he kind of gave me the go-ahead to get closer. We had a great chat. It was two friends that wanted to get back to that spot. That’s the most important thing.”

— McIlroy thought so. 

He said this last July, after his win at the Scottish Open: 

“Yeah, there’s, you know, there’s things that we both think we probably could have done differently, and there’s a lot that’s went into it. You know, it’s good that we’re at least talking again. It’s a first step. I wouldn’t say we are all the way there but we are — it’s a good first step.” 

— Or maybe not. 

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The PGA Tour and the PIF are still negotiating. Ideas are being ideated on what golf could all look like. And a few weeks ago, McIlroy had this idea for LIV, via the Stick to Football podcast

“What I would love LIV to turn into is almost like the Indian Premier League of golf. The IPL in cricket, they take two months during the calendar, you have four weeks in May and four weeks in November, and you do this team stuff. It’s a bit different.”

— Or maybe not. 

Last week, in an interview with Matt Verri of Standard Sport, Garcia was asked about McIlroy’s comments. He said this:

“I don’t think we want to be important for one month. We all deserve more than that.”

— You know where this is going. 

This week, McIlroy is playing the Dubai Desert Classic. He’s the defending champ. 

And toward the end of his pre-tournament press conference, he had this exchange that was started by a reporter:

“I noticed that Sergio, in response to you talking about an IPL and cricket competition probably being a good thing, said they deserve to be more important than a month. Is it going to be difficult to get a scenario where everyone is going to be happy?”

“Yeah, Sergio feels he deserves a lot of things,” McIlroy said.

“Again, it’s trying to align interests … and I think right now it’s just very, very hard to align everyone’s interests in the game.”


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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at