Graeme McDowell on joining LIV Golf: ‘I wish I had just said nothing’

Portrush golfer admits money was a big factor in his decision to join the Saudi backed golf tour

Graeme McDowell has ventured into new territory in more ways than one. His defection to LIV Golf to take the Saudi megabucks has also caused him to find himself on the end of negativity for his role, with some of the comments directed his way being “hurtful”.

“In hindsight, I wish I had said nothing. I wish I had went the Brooks Koepka, Pat Perez [approach]. Genuinely, I wish I had just said nothing,” said McDowell who, nevertheless, was unapologetic for making the career move to the start-up tour and which meant he missed last week’s Irish Open (due to a clash with LIV event in Oregon) and also will see him banned by the DP World Tour from competing in this week’s Scottish Open, of which he is a past champion.

Of joining up with the Greg Norman-headed circuit, McDowell, speaking at the JP McManus Pro-Am event at Adare Manor, explained that hard cash did indeed talk.

“Selfishly, I’m 43 years old next month, and I’m disappointed that I don’t have the ability to play the Majors and to play the other big events in the world. But my schedule’s going to be just fine. I’m happy enough with what I’ve got to look forward to for the next 18 months from a golfing point of view. It’s financially a great opportunity for me and my family.

“I hate kind of where it puts me from a headline point of view and kind of what it makes it all look like. But you know, within the circle of LIV, I think the players, there’s a great camaraderie, players continue to get better and better from the point of view of the field to the point where you know, it won’t be ignored forever by the World Ranking federations and by the Major championships.

“I’m hoping there’s going to be a way back in because I feel like I’m still good enough to compete at a high level any week I play. It’s not like I’m saying, ‘I’m hanging up my clubs, off to LIV, all the best’. It’s not about that.

“It’s about kind of sick of finishing 150th in the FedEx and banging my head against the wall on the PGA Tour. It’s hard. It’s hard every week. You know, I paid my dues. I’ve done the right things for 20 years of my life, and now I want to go and make some money in a fantastic opportunity.”

McDowell also took the opportunity to apologise to Irish golf fans for not playing in Mount Juliet, justifying his absence to play in the second LIV event in Oregon by arguing he didn’t have the clout

“I have to be all-in with those events. I can’t just dip my toe in. I don’t have that ability. I don’t have a good enough world ranking to be able to dip my toe in.”

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times