BROOKLINE, Mass. (AP) — Rory McIlroy had two strong comments about the future of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series in February. So far, one has been proven incorrect.

“Dead in the water,” McIlroy said, referring to all the top players saying they were staying not interested. He had an explanation for that: Players like Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau said in statements they were staying put and “I took them at their word.”

Earlier in that week, he referred to the startup league as a “pre-Champions Tour” because so many players were at the tail end of their careers. That much remains largely true — so far. More players could sign up in the coming weeks.

Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Louis Oosthuizen all can fit that pre-Champions Tour mode. DeChambeau and Patrick Reed? Not so much.

That’s what mystifies the 33-year-old McIlroy.

“A lot of these guys are in their late 40s — in Phil’s case, early 50s,” he said. “They would say to you themselves that their best days are behind them. That’s why I don’t understand for the guys that are a similar age to me going. Because I would like to believe that my best days are still ahead of me, and I think theirs are, too.

“So that’s where it feels like you’re taking the easy way out.”