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Jack Nicklaus has disregarded the LIV Golf series by claiming he does not consider players on the breakaway circuit as “part of the game anymore.”

Brooks Koepka became the first LIV player to win a major trophy at the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, while fellow renegade Cameron Smith is the reigning Open champion.

But neither will be teeing it up at this week’s Memorial Tournament, the prestigious PGA Tour event hosted by 18-time major winner Nicklaus that has now gained ‘designated’ status.

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A strong 120-man field has arrived in Ohio for the $20m event, including 38 of the top 50 in the world rankings.

Nicklaus revealed he congratulated Kopeka for winning the Wanamaker Trophy, but he has no interest in making further comments on players who defected to the Saudi-funded league.

“I don’t really consider those guys part of the game anymore; and I don’t mean that in a nasty way … or really mean it that way,” Nicklaus said ahead of his tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club.

“To me, this is a PGA Tour event and we’ve got the best field we can possibly have on the PGA Tour. Those who are eligible to be here. The other guys made a choice to go where they went. We don’t really talk about it.”

Nicklaus turned down hugely lucrative sums to be the face of the LIV enterprise and remain loyal to the PGA Tour when golf’s schism began last year.

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And the 83-year-old has no bad feelings towards those who jumped ship for LIV, but has reiterated why it was not a conceivable option for him to help front the series.

“There were certain players that it was probably the right thing for,” he added.

“It probably spurred the PGA Tour, I don’t think there’s any question about that, either, to move it to greater heights. But it wasn’t for me, it wasn’t for what my legacy was. Obviously, I pretty much started what the Tour is out here.”

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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