Jack Nicklaus doesn’t consider LIV rebels ‘part of the game anymore’ ahead of Memorial Tournament

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Jack Nicklaus brutally blasts LIV Golf rebels as he claims he doesn’t ‘consider those guys part of the game anymore’ ahead of their absence at his Memorial Tournament

  • Jack Nicklaus hosts the Memorial Tournament – a PGA Tour designated event 
  • Two current major winners, Brooks Koepka and Cam Smith, will be absent 
  • DailyMail.com provides all the latest international sports news

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus delivered the most brutal assessment of LIV Golf’s rebels as he claimed they were no longer part of the game. 

As golf’s greatest dispute rages on between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, two of the world’s top ten, PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka and the reigning Champion Golfer of the Year Cam Smith, will be noticeably absent from the Memorial Tournament this week. 

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While the Saudi-backed breakaway’s biggest stars are barred from the tournament, hosted by Nicklaus himself, ten of the top 20 players in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup standings will be vying for a chunk  of the elevated $20 million purse.

And 18-time major winner Nicklaus seemingly prefers it to be that way with the defectors’ absence of no concern to him. 

‘I don’t really consider those guys part of the game anymore,’ Nicklaus told the media on Tuesday, ‘and I don’t mean that in a nasty way… or really mean it that way.

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus delivered the most brutal assessment of LIV Golf's rebels

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus delivered the most brutal assessment of LIV Golf’s rebels

PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka

2022 Open Championship winner Cam Smith

Brooks Koepka (L) and Cam Smith (R) won’t play the Memorial this year after joining LIV Golf

‘To me, this is a PGA Tour event and we’ve got the best field we can possibly have on the PGA Tour. Those who are eligible to be here. The other guys made a choice to go where they went. We don’t really talk about it.

‘They’ve made a choice for what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. And that’s fine. I don’t have any issue with any of those guys.

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‘I see six or seven of them who are members at the Bear’s Club (Nicklaus’ club in Florida). It’s not an issue.

‘They get along with the guys fine. It’s just where they chose to play golf. And I look at what the PGA Tour is and who the members are – and they’ve actually spurred the PGA Tour to get better.’

The emergence of LIV Golf arguably had its benefits for those who chose to remain loyal to the PGA Tour. 

As part of its fightback against LIV’s multi-million dollar poaching of its top player, the Tour introduced its elevated events with new massive $20m purses. 

However, it still doesn’t beat the rebel circuit’s $25m purse on offer at each event, the opportunity to clinch bonuses based on team performance and the reported $100m-plus signing on fees that some players are said to have pocketed. 

‘I think the guys who have stayed on the PGA Tour for the most part are guys who play golf for the game of golf,’ The Golden Bear added.

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‘I was all about how good I could be in the sport and the money just took care of itself. Some guys might not really care about playing golf, they’re just pretty good at it. It’s a means to an end to them. And if that’s what it is, that’s fine.’ 

The Golden Bear revealed he no long considers the defectors part of the game

The Golden Bear revealed he no long considers the defectors part of the game 

The likes of Jon Rahm (left) will be vying for a chunk of a $20million purse this weekend

The likes of Jon Rahm (left) will be vying for a chunk of a $20million purse this weekend 

While Nicklaus clearly believes the rebels don’t belong at his Memorial event, his comments come amid the debate over LIV defectors’ eligibility for the Ryder Cup this year. 

Rory McIlroy surprisingly backed Koepka to be part of Team USA Tuesday, also ahead of the Memorial this weekend. 

However, the Northern Irishman reportedly wouldn’t welcome his fellow Europeans back with open arms due to how their defections have ‘played out’ with legal disputes with the DP World Tour. 

Meanwhile Jon Rahm offered a different stance, revealing he would ‘miss’ fellow Spaniard Sergio Garcia. 

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