Since its inception, Rory McIlroy has condemned the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour. Now that the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) has merged with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, he’s trying to look on the bright side of the surprise merger.
McIlroy spoke to reporters ahead of the RBC Canadian Open on Wednesday for the first time since the merger was announced on Tuesday morning. He said that Jimmy Dunne, the Independent Director of the PGA Tour’s board, ran down the deal with him at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, so he was just as surprised as the rest of us when the news broke.
After contemplation, McIlroy admits there’s some “mixed emotions” because everything is so fresh and there’s still much that needs to be ironed out to the players and fans regarding the landmark deal.
However, he is confident this will be good for the future of golf. And that’s because LIV Golf, in his eyes, won’t be a thing anymore.
“The one thing I think was really misconstrued yesterday was all the headlines were PGA Tour merges with LIV,” he explained, via Sky Sports News. “LIV’s got nothing to do with this. The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and the Public Investment Fund are basically partnering to create a new company. I think that’s where I was a little frustrated because all I’ve wanted to do and all I’ve wanted in the past year from basically this tournament is to protect the future of the PGA Tour and protect the aspirational nature of what the PGA Tour stands for.
“I hope that this does that, but I think with the headlines being ‘merges with LIV,’ that’s not — if you look at how it’s structured down, this new company sits above everything. Jay’s the CEO of that, so technically anyone that’s involved with LIV now would answer to Jay. The PGA Tour has control over everything.”
Many were outraged to see the PGA Tour merge with the PIF, which ran LIV Golf under its golf-related businesses, because of the civil war that has ensued over the last couple of years.
That ranged from players, who called commissioner Monahan a “hypocrite” during a players-only meeting on Tuesday in Canada, to fans that pointed out Monahan invoking the 9/11 terrorist attacks when condemning LIV Golf in the past.
But, as the saying goes, “Money talks.” McIlroy and the rest of the PGA Tour understand that’s the case here, but the No. 3 golfer in the World Golf Ranking is optimistic the money being pumped into this new entity will be controlled by the PGA Tour.
“Whether you like it or not, the PIF was going to keep spending money in golf,” McIlroy said. “At least the PGA Tour now controls how that money is spent. If you’re thinking about one of the biggest sovereign wealth funds in the world, would you rather have them as a partner or an enemy? At the end of the day, money talks, and you’d rather have them as a partner.”
The PIF will be the main financial supporter of this new entity, per the merger’s release on Tuesday, while all litigation will be put to an end between the respective tours.
So many questions need to be answered for the future of golf, especially considering the players weren’t in the know regarding the merger.
But no matter the case, McIlroy has his eye on the future. And though it is hard right now to pull his personal thought process out of the equation, he’s trying to do so with an optimistic point of view moving forward.
“I think ultimately when I try to remove myself from the situation and I look at the bigger picture and I look at 10 years down the line, I think ultimately this is going to be good for the game of professional golf. I think it unifies it and secures its financial future,” he said.
McIlroy will be in the field at the RBC Canadian Open, which kicks off the first round on Thursday, before heading to Los Angeles next week for the 2023 U.S. Open — the third major of the year.