Rory McIlroy admitted that the “bleak” prospect of golfer Leaf to win the BMW PGA Championship gave him extra motivation.
Patrick Reed’s final run of 63 set an early club goal 14-under par at Wentworth and was unmissable for nearly two hours, when Jon Ram scored 18th to finish under-16.
Another late eagle from American Taylor Gotsch meant he was the LIV’s highest-ranked fourth-placed volleyer in front of Reed, with Shane Lowry winning the title with a volley ahead of McIlroy and Ram.
McIlroy, who has previously said that having 18 players from the Saudi-funded breakaway team was hard to bear, said.
“Maybe that gave me some extra motivation and some of the other guys on the leaderboard to get past the 14 under the mark.”
McIlroy has emerged as one of the most vocal proponents of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour trying to combat the threat of LIV Golf – a situation he sometimes wants to avoid, even if he believes it has actually helped golf.
McIlroy said at a press conference ahead of the Italian Open at Marco Simone Golf and Country Club, the venue for next year’s Ryder Cup.
“But at the moment I’m a golfer. I play golf. Maybe I put myself in conversation a lot sometimes. But I can’t help myself because I feel so strong about it.
“But it’s up to the forces trying to sort of come up with it, not the decision, I don’t think that’s the right word, but a strategy going forward so that the game thrives at the highest level.”
McIlroy will try to maintain his 100 per cent record in Italy this week, having won the European Amateur Championship in 2006 in his only previous competitive appearance in the country.
He will also gain some valuable experience in the Ryder Cup tournament ahead of next year’s competition against the United States, who hold the trophy after their record 19-9 win at Whistling Straits.
Asked if Europe captain Luke Donald affected his decision to play, McIlroy said: “I really committed to playing in this event before Luke was captain and it was someone else. It’s always been part of my schedule.
“I wanted to play at least one tournament here before the Ryder Cup. I think the Italian Open will be in May next year. I knew it wouldn’t fit into my schedule because it was crowded at the United States at the time.
“So this was a good opportunity. I was already in Europe playing at Wentworth, and it was a good opportunity to watch the course.
“But I’ve had discussions with Luke and in fact a few of us are gathering for dinner tonight (Wednesday) for a little bit of bonding with the team but also we talked about the training session and how we think it should be set up for the benefit of the European team.”
McIlroy reiterated that he does not feel that LIV players should be on the Ryder Cup team, but US Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick does not agree with the four-time winner.
“I just want to win the Ryder Cup,” said Fitzpatrick, who was on the losing side in 2016 and 2021.
“I want to be part of the team myself, but I want the best 11 players we can have. I’m not too bothered with where they’re coming from. I just want to make sure we win and I think that’s the most important.
“I know other players may not necessarily agree with that, but I know the feeling of winning is worth more than any kind of argument you might have with other players.
“There is someone I spoke to last week – I told him I would be happy with him in the team. I don’t have any problems.”