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Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell has swatted away Sir Nick Faldo’s latest remarks about LIV Golf, insisting that he’s learned to criticism of the league with a “pinch of salt”.

Appearing on this week’s episode of The bunkered Podcast, the Northern Irishman was told about comments made earlier today (June 28) by Faldo on the eve of the British Masters.

Faldo is at the The Belfry this week in his capacity as tournament host and, speaking to the media on Wednesday afternoon, dismissed LIV’s longevity.

“I don’t think so, because nobody’s really interested,” said the six-time major champion. “They’re not going to get the sponsorship they want. They call it a team [event] and it’s not because it’s stroke play.”

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McDowell, a part of LIV since its very first event at the Centurion Club just over a year ago and in Spain for this week’s event at Valderrama is refusing to take the criticism to heart.

“It’s pinch of salt stuff nowadays,” he said. “I’ve seen it and I’ve heard it and I’ve read it and, listen, we know what opinions are. Everyone’s got one, right?

“Nick’s there at the British Masters protecting [his event]. That’s the biggest takeaway for me over the last 12 months. People are going to protect what they’re going to protect in the moment.

“I see players saying things and all they’re doing is protecting their territory. They’re protecting the tours that they’ve chosen to defend. It doesn’t mean they’re bad guys. It doesn’t mean that they’re wrong, or right, or whatever.

“I mean, Nick’s at the British Masters and he cares about his tournament, so he’s not going to say anything good about a world-class field at Valderrama this weekend. Of course he’s not going to say anything good about us. I get it.

“I’m at that point where I don’t even hold anything against anybody anymore because all they’re doing is protecting their turf.”

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He added: “Nick Faldo was my hero in the nineties. I had multiple Pringle sweaters in my closest. He’ll always be a legend to me. But he hasn’t been out here. He hasn’t come out to see this for himself. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

“Just come out here and have a look and watch the best players in the world. There are guys that care a lot about this product and I can’t wait to see where it plugs in because I truly believe it will be a part of golf in the future.”

In a wide-ranging chat, McDowell revealed that events of the last 12 months have “hardened [me] up a little”, adding that he was initially “shocked and blown away” by the negative reaction to the Saudi-funded venture.

“Answering the questions that we tried to answer [at the outset] was the hardest thing in this whole deal,” he revealed, “because as a professional golfer you’re just not equipped to be able to handle that type of scrutiny, that type of spotlight and that type of abuse.”

However, he is hopeful that things will the proposed merging of commercial operations between the PGA Tour, DP World and PIF will lay the foundations for a more harmonious future, adding that he was pleased to see Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia bury the hatchet.

“There’s not many personal relationships that I can think of between players that aren’t fixable after these last 12 months. I haven’t fallen out with anyone and I don’t have any making up to do with anyone. When I made my commitment to the LIV Golf tour 12 months ago, I had long conversations with many people that I care about in the sport. My partners, my sponsors, my family, the powers-that-be in the game and I tried to be as open and honest as I could. I didn’t burn any bridges. I didn’t call anybody names. I just said, hey, this is what I have to do for me.”

• Listen to the full interview with McDowell on this week’s episode of The bunkered Podcast. Click here to stream for free now.

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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