Former world No1 Rory McIlroy believes Saudi-backed plans for a breakaway golf tour are “dead in the water” after more leading players turned their back on the talks.
McIlroy also issued a stinging rebuke of Phil Mickelson after the US PGA champion indicated he would overlook his humanitarian concerns about Saudi Arabia in the name of business.
It came after leading PGA Tour players Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson on a Sunday ruled themselves out of the new circuit, which is being fronted by former major champion Greg Norman.
“Who’s left to go? I mean, there’s no one,” said McIlroy. “Who else have you got to fill the field? Greg Norman would have to tee it up to fill the field.
“I mean seriously, who else is going to do it? I don’t think they could get 48 guys.”
The Northern Irishman did not hold back on Mickelson, who has been one of the cheerleaders for the new tour.
The American six-time Major winner called Saudi Arabia “scary” but said they offered invaluable leverage in talks with the PGA Tour.
“I don’t want to kick someone while he’s down obviously, but I thought they were naive, selfish, egotistical, ignorant,” said McIlroy.
“It was just very surprising and disappointing, sad. I’m sure he’s sitting at home rethinking his position and where he goes from here.”
Major winners Johnson and DeChambeau became the latest stars to pledge their commitment to the PGA Tour over the weekend.
“Over the past several months, there has been a great deal of speculation about an alternative tour; much of which seems to have included me and my future in professional golf,” said Johnson.
“I feel it is now time to put such speculation to rest. I am grateful for the opportunity to play on the best tour in the world and for all it has provided me and my family.”
DeChambeau said: “While there has been a lot of speculation surrounding my support for another tour, I want to make it very clear that as long as the best players in the world are playing the PGA Tour, so will I.”