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Rory McIlroy makes major statement for PGA Tour with win on first LIV Golf weekend

With the distraction of the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tour starting, the PGA Tour had a dream weekend in Canada with Rory McIlroy getting the win.

TORONTO, ON — The PGA Tour got a dream result in their RBC Canadian Open championship on Sunday with world No. 3 and face of the Tour, Rory McIlroy picking up the win in the event.

It came on the same weekend that the Saudi-funded LIV Golf tour began in London with their own event. 

McIlroy has been one of the strongest opponents of the LIV Golf series and spoke out against the money being paid to players like Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson. Greg Norman, who runs the LIV Golf, said in a story in the Washington Post that McIlroy had been “brainwashed” by the PGA Tour. 

“I had extra motivation of what’s going on across the pond,” McIlroy said. “The guy that’s spearheading that tour has 20 wins on the PGA Tour and I was tied with him and I wanted to get one ahead of him. And I did. So, that was really cool for me, just a little sense of pride on that one.”

It was a dig at Norman, who had 20 career tour wins.

One day after LIV Golf finished its 54-hole event with Charl Schwartzel winning $4.75 million ($4 million for his score, $750,000 as part of the winning team), the Canadian Open had enormous crowds with thousands surrounding the 18th green.

The top of the leaderboard on the final day included big names like McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Tony Finau, Sam Burns and Justin Rose. A much-needed on-the-course response from the PGA Tour on the same weekend that LIV began.

On the Locked On Sports Today podcast, Josh Neighbors and Peter Bukowski discussed McIlroy's win, what it meant for the PGA Tour and what it meant for LIV Golf.

SUBSCRIBE to the daily Locked On Sports Today podcast, bringing you expert conversations on the biggest stories in sports, every day, in under 30 minutes.

Neighbors, like many others, was critical of PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and his lack of response during the first week of LIV Golf. Monahan did appear on CBS' Sunday broadcast to discuss the developments.

“The PGA Tour has some problems. Jay Monahan addressed none of them. Rory McIlroy, though, did make the point that everyone is making for the PGA Tour that the best players in the world reside on the PGA Tour," Neighbors said. "The guys who want to win, the guys who want to beat the best in the world, are on the PGA Tour. That’s the big story to me this weekend.”

The Saudi Public Fund has allocated tens of billions of dollars to this golf tour. We saw the guys over in London this past weekend for the first LIV tournament get asked the difficult questions about playing for a Saudi-government-backed league. And it doesn’t seem like they’re going away. How long can this go on?

“I think it's going to be going on," Neighbors said. "Dustin Johnson can ignore it forever. But if we’re talking about his golf legacy, he gets dinged for this. This is a guy who has all the talent in the world, former No. 1 player, multiple major champion and he should be accomplishing more. But he’s taking the bag of money. I’m not going to get mad at a guy like Kevin Na going to take the money. But guys like DJ, Patrick Reed, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson…those are the guys that are the big stars getting the money. And keep asking the questions. Because those guys do not have solid defenses for why they’re playing, nor will they at any point in time.”

Now PGA Tour players and LIV Golf players come together in Boston this week for the U.S. Open at The Country Club, as Phil Mickelson is playing after skipping the Masters and PGA Championship amid backlash from his earlier comments about the Saudis and the PGA Tour. Other LIV players including Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Kevin Na, and others, are also in the field for the U.S. Open.

The Associated Press contributed to this article

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