|-5 A Rai (Eng), J Lower (US), C Conners (Can), C Hadley (US); -4 J Byrd (US), B Garnett (US), M Fitzpatrick (Eng), M Hubbard (US), R Gerard (US), B Todd (US), K Seong-hyeon (Kor), W Gordon (US), C Yuan (Chn)|
|Selected others: -3 J Rose (Eng), C Tarren (Eng), H Hall (Eng); -2 T Fleetwood, R Knox (Sco); -1 R McIlroy (NI), M Laird (Sco); Level T Hatton (Eng), S Lowry (Ire)|
Rory McIlroy said he and Justin Rose agreed not to speak about the PGA Tour and DP World Tour’s LIV Golf merger as they teed off at the Canadian Open.
It is the first tournament since the shock merger was announced on Tuesday.
McIlroy and Rose decided not to join LIV Golf, which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
“Rosie and I said, ‘All right, no chatting until lunch so that we can actually concentrate on what we’re doing out there,'” McIlroy said.
“We started to get in a conversation walking down the first [hole] and we’re like, ‘No, let’s stop this. Let’s just focus on our golf and we’ll say what we want to say when we get inside.’
“So, it was nice to play a round of golf and focus on something else for those five hours we were out there.”
Asked whether he was bothered by the news of the merger after staying “loyal” to the PGA Tour, Rose said he believed LIV players had more to be worried about.
“The headline seems like it’s just going to be this very smooth transition and, ‘Come on back, boys, it’s all done now’, Rose said.
“I don’t think that’s the case. I still think I’m happy where I am. I’d probably be more concerned if I was on LIV right now than on the PGA Tour.
“They have sacrificed a lot as well in terms of ranking and all these types of things. So, there might not be such an easy step for a few of them if that’s the case, if it comes down to, you know, exemptions and what your categories are on the PGA Tour.”
World number three McIlroy, who has been a staunch critic of LIV Golf, said on Wednesday that the merger will ultimately be “good for golf”, but he feels there should be consequences for the LIV defectors.
British contingent start strongly
Northern Ireland’s McIlroy, a two-time defending champion at the Canadian Open, finished the first round on one under par, while England’s Rose is two shots better off at three under in Toronto.
Rose’s compatriot Aaron Rai has a share of the lead alongside Corey Connors – looking to become the first home winner since 1954 – and American pair Chesson Hadley and Justin Lower, after hitting a five-under 67 at the Oakdale Golf and Country Club.
Fellow Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick is a shot behind as he warms up for his US Open title defence next week and would have been sharing the lead were it not for a bogey on his penultimate hole of the day.
English duo Callum Tarren and Harry Hall are also well placed on three under, with Tommy Fleetwood and Scotland’s Russell Knox are on two under.