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Rory McIlroy has seen European counterpart after European counterpart move on from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf. First it was Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia. Then, it was Jon Rahm and most recently Englishman Tyrrell Hatton. With the golf world constantly evolving and new information entering the fold each day, McIlroy's opinion continues to change with it. 

Ahead of the 2024 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the 34-year-old's softening stance against LIV Golf was vocalized yet again. Without knowledge of what the future professional landscape may look like, McIlroy believes LIV Golf members should avoid punishment if they are ultimately allowed to return to the PGA Tour.

"I think life is about choices," said McIlroy. "Guys made choices to go and play LIV; guys made choices to stay here. If people still have eligibility on this tour and they want to come back and play or you want to try and do something, let them come back. I mean ... I think it's hard to punish people. 

"I don't think there should be a punishment for -- obviously I've changed my tune on that because I see where golf is and I see that having a diminished PGA Tour and having a diminished LIV Tour or anything else is bad for both parties. It would be much better being together and moving forward together for the good of the game. That's my opinion of it. So, to me, the faster that we can all get back together and start to play and start to have the strongest fields possible, I think is great for golf."

This week in particular will highlight the separation of star power between the two leagues. The PGA Tour will host nine of the top-10 players in the Official World Golf Rankings (and 18 of the top 20) at Pebble Beach, but it is clear those metrics do not adequately measure the biggest attractions. 

Because while Rahm and Hatton may be included in those ranges, names like five-time major championship winner Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson are not. These names will be playing in Mexico at LIV Golf's first event of its third season. 

McIlroy understands the only way forward for the sport is through a unified front -- whatever that may look like. He realizes the separation must end and the best players coming together more than just four times a year is what fans desire the most. 

When asked whether he believes a victory this week at Pebble Beach or Riviera would be diminished without players like Rahm and Johnson competing, McIlroy answered, "I'd like to win here and stand up with a trophy on 18 green and know that I've beaten all of the best players in the world. So, yeah."