Rory McIlroy spoke for the first time Wednesday about the PGA Tour’s landmark deal to merge with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, and he wanted to make one distinction very clear.

McIlroy had a press conference ahead of the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto where he is the two-time defending champion. The four-time major winner has been very much caught in the middle of a year-long war between the Tour and the PIF-funded LIV Golf series, continuously going to bat for the Tour while offering full-throated denouncements of LIV and its Tour-defecting players.

So, McIlroy was put in a bit of a bind with this week’s shocking bombshell that the Tour and PIF merged. In his press conference Wednesday, McIlroy made two things very clear: The PGA Tour is not merging with LIV Golf and, well, he still has no time for LIV.

“I still hate LIV. I hate LIV and I hope it goes away, and I fully expect it will,” McIlroy told reporters in a press conference at Oakdale Golf and Country Club. “That’s where the distinction is … it’s very different from LIV. All I’ve tried to do is protect the PGA Tour and what the PGA Tour stands for.”

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McIlroy on multiple occasions did his best to stress this deal is more about infusing the billions and billions of dollars of PIF money into professional golf — led by the PGA Tour — than it is the Tour and LIV coming together to form some sort of mega tour.

“I think the one thing that was really misconstrued (Tuesday) were all the headlines (saying the) PGA Tour merged with LIV, and LIV has nothing to do with this,” McIlroy contended. “I think that’s where I was a little frustrated. All I’ve wanted to do and what I’ve wanted is to protect the future of the PGA Tour and protect the aspirational nature of what the PGA Tour stands for. I hope this does that.

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” … I think if you look at the structure (of the newly formed entity), this new company stands above everything. … Technically, anyone involved with LIV now answers to (PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan), so PGA Tour has control of everything. Whether you like it or not, the PIF was going to continue to spend money in golf, and now the PGA Tour controls that.”

He added: “Ultimately, when I try to remove myself from the situation and look at the bigger picture and 10 years down the line, I think this is ultimately going to be good for the game of professional golf. It unifies it and secures its financial future.”

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McIlroy admitted the Saudis have more money than just about anyone, and seemed to indicate this was inevitable.

“At the end of the day, money talks, and you’d rather have them as a partner.”

Featured image via Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports Images