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I understand 9/11 families’ fury at US golfers taking dirty Saudi millions, says Rory McIlroy in swipe at LIV defectors

, I understand 9/11 families’ fury at US golfers taking dirty Saudi millions, says Rory McIlroy in swipe at LIV defectors

RORY McILROY has taken another swipe at golf’s Saudi-backed rebels and questioned whether they are playing for “dirty money”.

The Northern Irish star understands the outrage directed at the LIV Golf defectors by the families of people who lost loved ones in the 9/11 atrocities — largely carried out by terrorists from Saudi Arabia.

Rory McIlroy sympathised wth the families of 9/11 victims as he took another swipe at golf’s Saudi rebels

Phil Mickelson is one of several American golfers to come under fire for joining the Suadi-backed LIV gold tour

A survivors’ support group, 911familiesunited.org, savaged Phil Mickelson and the rest of the American golfers for joining the controversial new circuit.

And in a second open letter, they said those players should be “ashamed” after Mickelson tried to deflect criticism in his US Open press conference.

McIlroy — who wants nothing to do with the breakaway — said: “I understand the point of view of those families. I think everything that’s happening with this new tour, it legitimises their place in the world.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in the Middle East and the vast majority of people I’ve met there are very nice. But there’s bad people everywhere.

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, I understand 9/11 families’ fury at US golfers taking dirty Saudi millions, says Rory McIlroy in swipe at LIV defectors

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, I understand 9/11 families’ fury at US golfers taking dirty Saudi millions, says Rory McIlroy in swipe at LIV defectors

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“The bad people that came from that part of the world did some absolutely horrendous things. So I appreciate where these families are coming from.

“In this day and age, everything is just so intertwined.

“It’s hard to separate sport from politics and dirty money from clean money.

“I have friends who lost people in 9/11 and it’s a really tragic thing. So I can empathise with those families and I certainly understand their concerns and frustrations with it all.”

McIlroy, 33, claimed the LIV series was “dead in the water” a few months ago.

But he said he had been forced to change his view because of the shock U-turns from Major champions Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed.

McIlroy, who tees off at Brookline in the US Open tomorrow, added: “I guess I took a lot of players’ statements at face value. That’s what I got wrong.

“Look, they all have the choice to play where they want to play and they’ve made their decision.

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“My dad said to me a long time ago, ‘Once you make your bed, you lie in it’, and they have made their bed. That’s their decision and they have to live with that.

“If the Saudis are hell-bent on spending money in golf, let’s try to get it spent in a way that benefits the wider ecosystem. That’s where I would like to see it going.”

McIlroy is motivated by something money cannot buy — golfing glory.

And he is determined to match the legacy left by greats such as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

Nicklaus’ record haul of 18 Majors is not even on McIlroy’s radar and neither is the 15 amassed by Tiger Woods, who opted out of this week to concentrate on next month’s 150th Open at St Andrews.

McIlroy is the bookies’ favourite to end his eight-year Major drought after a final-round 62 on Sunday saw him retain his Canadian Open title.

He added: “I hope I’m still building on my legacy. In golfing terms, I’m still youngish, even though I’ve been out here for a long time.

“But winning the biggest events is very important to me.

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“It means a lot — going back to history and tradition and putting your name on trophies that have the legends of the game on them.

“That’s really cool. It’s something that money can’t buy. I’m not afraid to admit it — I want that glory!

“Your legacy, your reputation, at the end of the day that’s all you have. And ‘championing’ the PGA Tour is the right thing to do in my opinion.

“The Tour was created by the players that came before us, the likes of Nicklaus, Palmer.

“Another important thing is that the PGA Tour has certainly given me a lot of opportunities.

“But I also think about what they’ve done for charity. They’ve literally raised billions of dollars over the years.

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, I understand 9/11 families’ fury at US golfers taking dirty Saudi millions, says Rory McIlroy in swipe at LIV defectors

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“That is a massive legacy and something I don’t think people talk enough about.

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“I’ve tried to take a wider view of everything. I think it’s the right thing to do.”

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