Rory McIlroy held a “frank discussion” with Jordan Spieth after hearing the American’s comments about the PGA Tour’s talks with the PIF…
Rory McIlroy put down his torch for the PGA Tour last year but will the flame ever really die?
No longer being on the PGA Tour Policy Board didn’t stop the Northern Irishman holding “a frank discussion” with board member Jordan Spieth after comments the American made at Pebble Beach last week.
Spieth said he doesn’t think a lucrative deal with the Public Investment Fund is needed following the tour’s newfound $3 billion alliance with Strategic Sports Group (SSG).
Although the tour’s negotiations with the PIF, LIV Golf’s primary investor, have been public knowledge since June 2023, the emergence of SSG’s investment interests came after, and a deal was tied up with what seemed relative ease.
“The short answer is we don’t have to and I think the long answer is the positive there is a unification,” Spieth explained about signing a deal with the PIF.
“But like I’ve mentioned earlier, we have members that feel strongly on both sides, so until that would be able to be solved and that would be No. 10 on the list of 10 things despite any government interference on what they’ve talked about being a lengthy process, it would be a situation that we should try to have, but I’m not sure if or how or when it would get done.”
McIlroy resigned from the Policy Board in November having been the tour’s loudest advocate since LIV Golf’s inception, as it took up “too much of his time.”
Rory McIlroy: Contemplating life without the PIF isn’t an option
“I just want to remove myself from the fray a little bit,” McIlroy said to Sports Illustrated having left a “top a player group chat” following Spieth’s comments.
“I talked to him (Spieth) about his comments. And we had a pretty frank discussion.
“My thing was if I’m the original investor that thought that they were going to get this deal done back in July, and I’m hearing a board member say that, you know, we don’t really need them, now, how are they going to think about that, what are they going to feel about that?
“They are still sitting out there with hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, that they’re going to pour into sport. And I know what Jordan was saying, I absolutely know what he was saying and what he was trying to say.
“But if I were PIF and I was hearing that coming from here, the day after doing this SSG deal, it wouldn’t have made me too happy, I guess?”
Hostility between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf has plagued the professional game since June 2022, the month of LIV’s birth, with players facing suspensions, and heavy criticism from some quarters, for making the leap.
McIlroy has admitted he was too “judgmental” of players who moved to LIV since resigning from the board, and he has expressed his wish for unification and his desire for a world tour featuring the world’s best players.
He recognises the potential of having the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, reported to be worth $776 billion, involved in the sport if the money was spent correctly, hence why he took issue with Spieth’s words last week.
McIlroy isn’t on his own in showing keen interest in the tour’s future with the six-strong group of player directors currently on the board and working toward a deal with the PIF, as well as 16 players in the Player Advisory Council.
But, in a sport with little certainty at the moment, one constant is the relentless questioning about the PGA Tour’s affairs being aimed at its biggest star wherever he goes, which makes one consider if McIlroy can ever completely remove himself from the diplomatic discussions that will determine the tour’s destiny.
“Having PIF as your partner as opposed to not having them as your partner, I don’t think is an option for the game of golf,” McIlroy added.
“I think they’re committed to investing in golf and in the wider world of sport and if you can get them to invest their money the right way to unify the game of golf.”
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