Rory McIlroy said any top-level golfer who claims they are underpaid “needs their head examined”.
The amount of money at the highest levels of the game has been a huge talking point in recent months because of swelling purses on the PGA Tour and the arrival of the LIV Golf Invitational Series – or Saudi Golf League – which offered huge sums to players.
Other top stars, most notably Phil Mickelson, have accused the game’s bosses of “obnoxious greed” and claimed they have withheld money from players.
However, McIlroy, who is a player director on the PGA Tour, said it “wouldn’t feel right” if he was to claim he is underpaid.
Speaking to Sky Sports, he said: “I play golf for a living. There’s nurses and teachers and they’re the ones that should be getting paid a lot more.
“So I just wouldn’t feel right at all saying that I get underpaid playing a game for a living. I realise how fortunate I am and anyone that says otherwise needs their head examined.”
McIlroy’s comments came in a discussion about the new breakaway series, which has been rumoured for several years but was only formally announced on Wednesday.
🗣 @McIlroyRory: “Nurses and teachers should be paid a lot more… I wouldn’t feel right saying that I get underpaid for playing a game”
— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) March 17, 2022
Spearheaded by Australian legend Greg Norman and backed by the Saudi government’s public investment fund, it has faced criticism from some because of allegations of sportswashing.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan previously said any player who joined the rival circuit would face a lifetime ban.
But McIlroy admitted much of the negative reaction has been about the source of the money, rather than the new tour itself.
“I have raised those points before,” he said.
“People always used to say sports and politics shouldn’t mix and that but in this day and age with everything going on it’s very hard to separate those two.
“So there’s certainly a part of it that is to do with that.”