Rory McIlroy has further distanced himself from a cashed-up world golf tour, with the World No.1 declaring he "didn't like where the money was coming from."
Moments after posting the clubhouse lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Florida on Thursday, McIlroy was asked on host TV broadcaster Golf Channel about his withdrawal from discussions with the rival Premier Golf League.
"I didn't really like where the money was coming from either; I wanted to be the first one to speak out against it and I'm glad that I have," said McIlroy, who was pipped by eventual first-round leader Matt Every (65).
The PGL is a proposed lucrative international league that would feature the top 48 golfers playing 18 tournaments a year, each with a prize purse of US$10 million (AU$15 million).
Ten of the events would be in the United States, while organisers have targeted the Australian Open as one of eight overseas tournaments they want to acquire.
British company the World Golf Group recently announced plans to launch the PGL in 2022 and it is reportedly backed by Saudi Arabian financiers.
According to an email from PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan to US-based players, the PGL is backed by "Saudi interests."
Last month, Scottish newspaper The Scotsman reported powerbrokers of the PGL played in the pro-am with Phil Mickelson at the Saudi International event on the European Tour.
The Scotsman identified three of the individuals: Majed Al-Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation, Colin Neville of the Raine Group, and Andrew Gardiner, a director at Barclays Capital.
“I didn't really like where the money was coming from either; I wanted to be the first one to speak out against it and I'm glad that I have.” – Rory McIlroy
The Raine Group has been announced as one of the PGL partners, and Neville has orchestrated past sports transactions like the Ultimate Fighting Championship's $4 billion sale and Manchester City's deal with a group of Chinese investors.
McIlroy recently withdrew his interest in being courted by the PGL, declaring that "I'm out."
The Northern Irishman cited a schedule that was too restrictive and many predicted the concept would fizzle without his profile.
The four-time major winner doubled down on those comments at Orlando's Bay Hill course on Thursday.
"The reason I said what I said was because we were in Mexico (for the World Golf Championships in February) and some (players) decided not to go," said McIlroy about eight of the world's top 10 golfers skipping the WGC event in Mexico City.
"But that was their choice; that was the freedom that they had. They have autonomy over their schedule and they can pick and choose when and where they want to play.
"But that's not the case with this new league; you're going to be contracted to play 18 events.
"They're going to tell you where and when you should be there.
"As a golfer and an independent contractor, I didn't like the sound of that.
"I'd like to think I'm quite a loyal person and the PGA Tour has given me a platform to showcase my skills and build my brand and become this athlete that I am."
- Evin Priest, Australian Associated Press