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Rory McIlroy says PGA Tour partnership with Saudi PIF will be good for golf – The Irish Times


The U-turn complete, it would seem.

Rory McIlroy, for so long the most vehement players’ voice against having anything to do with any Saudi Arabia-backed move into golf, most especially in the birth of LIV Golf, has backed the new entity which will see the PGA Tour have a majority say in men’s professional golf’s new entity.

Given the head’s up by PGA Tour policy board member Jimmy Dunne before it was made public, McIlroy – speaking at the RBC Canadian Open where he is seeking a three-peat of titles, having won the last two instalments – said:

“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 it secures its financial future.

“So there’s mixed emotions in there as well, as there’s going to be. I don’t understand all the intricacies of what’s going on. It’s a very, what’s the word? There’s a lot of ambiguity. There’s a lot of things still to be sort of thrashed out. But at least it means that the litigation goes away, which has been a massive burden for everyone that’s involved with the [PGA Tour] and that’s playing the tour. And we can start to work toward some sort of way of unifying the game at the elite level.

“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. And I hope that this does that.

“But I think with the headlines being, “merges with LIV,” like that’s not the [case]. I mean, if you look at the structure of how it’s structured now, this new company sits above everything. Jay Monahan’s the CEO of that. So technically anyone that is involved with LIV now would answer to Jay. So the PGA Tour have control of everything.

“And one thing as well is, whether you like it or not, the PIF were going to keep spending the money in golf. At least the PGA Tour now controls how that money is spent. So, you know, 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 would rather have them as a partner.

McIlroy said he was “never offered any money” to join LIV, but admitted he felt like a “sacrificial lamb” after effectively becoming the public face of the PGA Tour.

Asked if those who did turn down massive offers should be compensated, he said: “The simple answer is yes. The complex answer is how does that happen? That’s all up in the air at the minute.

“It’s hard for me to not sit up here and feel somewhat like a sacrificial lamb and feeling like I’ve put myself out there and this is what happens.

“Again, removing myself from the situation, I see how this is better for the game of golf, there’s no denying it. For me as an individual, there’s just going to have to be conversations that are had.”

McIlroy was keen to distinguish between LIV Golf and the PIF, admitting: “It’s not LIV. I still hate LIV. I hope it goes away and I would fully expect that it does.

“That’s where the distinction here is. This is the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and the PIF, very different from LIV.

“All I’ve tried to do is protect the PGA Tour and what it stands for. There may be a team element and you’re gonna see maybe me play in some sort of team golf, but I don’t think it will look anything like LIV has looked and I think that’s a good thing.”

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