July 23, 2024

In his defense of the PGA Tour, Rory McIlroy has been one of the most outspoken critics of LIV Golf, although he has tempered his views in recent months.

Since the breakaway series entered the golf world, Rory McIlroy has been a steadfast defender of the PGA Tour against LIV Golf.

Before the Masters the following week, McIlroy brought up LIV and the disintegration of the professional golf industry once more. The four-time major champion thinks that the division of the sport into the Saudi-backed series and the PGA Tour is unsustainable and will eventually hurt the game.

Since Ryder Cup hero and current Masters champion Jon Rahm joined the series in the offseason, McIlroy has tempered his criticism of LIV Golf and acknowledged the talent on the other team. “LIV Golf does have some of the best players in the world that are playing some really good golf,” he declared in closing.

Since the contentious launch of LIV Golf two years ago, McIlroy has steadfastly opposed it, even as a number of celebrities signed for exorbitant fees. But after Rahm became the most recent well-known player to leave LIV Golf, the gulf between the PGA Tour and the latter grew even wider.

In an interview with Stick to Football on Sky Sports, McIlroy said he was “too judgmental” of his friends who moved to LIV Golf. The 34-year-old acknowledged that he had made mistakes over the previous two years and that, perhaps overly critical of the professional golf industry, he took a “altruistic approach” to the sport’s struggles.

Since we’re all meant to be self-employed individuals with the freedom to participate in any tournament we want, McIlroy believes that LIV has exposed weaknesses in the current golf system. However, I believe that what LIV and the Saudis have shown is that even if you’re going on a tour and asking for millions of dollars in sponsorship, you can’t tell the sponsors that you can guarantee that the players will show up.

“It’s amazing how successful the PGA Tour has been for such a long time. It has brought to light a few systemic weaknesses that golf will hopefully investigate further. We must be able to assure these folks of what they will receive if we are going to ask them for such a large sum of money.

Surprisingly, McIlroy has also expressed admiration for PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan. According to McIlroy, he asked Al-Rumayyan what he wanted to do with golf when they first met at the end of 2022. This conversation eventually resulted in the contentious framework agreement between the PIF and the PGA Tour.

“We had a great conversation, and I understood some of his reasons for wanting to pursue certain goals. He believes that golf as a team can really take off and try to build franchise value in some of these teams,” McIlroy said. “Someone’s got to go talk to this guy,” I told the guys on the PGA Tour when I returned to America at the beginning of 2023. After that, a plan was made for one of the board members to try and get to know him in order to see if we could work things out so that everyone could go on.

“So I knew that there was conversations being had, but I didn’t know that it would happen so quickly. Then obviously on June 6, a framework agreement was announced and a lot of the players were angered by it because they were completely blindsided by it.”

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