Rory McIlroy has now accepted LIV Golf “is part of the sport” a matter of months after saying he hated the league and hoped it would go away…
Rory McIlroy hated LIV Golf and expected it to go away in June 2023.
Fast forward to January 2024 and the PGA Tour’s most loyal solider accepts the Saudi-funded circuit “is part of our sport.”
The Northern Irishman said it was not his job to fight the rebel league and admits to being too judgmental of defecting players when speaking on the Stick to Football podcast, brought to you by Sky Bet.
Having resigned from the PGA Tour Policy Board in November, McIlroy is determined to put politics aside and focus on adding to his congested trophy cabinet.
“I think at this point, I was maybe a little judgmental of the guys who went to LIV golf at the start, and I think it was a bit of a mistake on my part because I now realise that not everyone is in my position or in Tiger Wood’s position,” he said.
“We all turn professionals to making a living playing the sports that we do, and I think that’s what I realised over the last two years.
“I’ve gone through the last two years with this altruistic approach where I’ve looked at the world the way I’ve wanted to see it,” he added.
“Ultimately, you can say what you want and do what you want, but at the end of the day, you’re not going to be able to change people’s minds. You’re never going to make them decide based on what you say.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve lost the fight against LIV, but I’ve just accepted the fact that this is part of our sport now.
“For the last two years I’ve been trying to fight the good fight and I’ve played well and I’m in a good spot during that time, but it’s not my job to fight against LIV.
“At the end of the day, my job is to go out there and try to shoot the lowest score possible.
“I resigned but it was more because it was taking up too much of my time – I just want to get back to being a golfer, playing golf and trying to win those tournaments that I dreamed about winning as a kid.
“I hope everyone comes back together – you’ve got guys on both sides that don’t want it to happen for certain reasons, the LIV guys don’t really want to come back and play the PGA Tour because they don’t feel like they’ve been treated very well.”
“Some of the PGA guys don’t want to come back together because they don’t want to see those other guys. People at this point need to put their feelings and egos aside and come back together and we all move forward – that would be the best thing for golf.”
Rory McIlroy: LIV Golf has exposed flaws in professional golf
Despite recognising LIV’s place in the sport, McIlroy believes the upheaval caused by the league’s emergence has been “sad to see” and “isn’t good for anyone.”
Praise has been distant from McIlroy’s lips when discussing LIV Golf in the last two years, but the 34-year-old admitted professional golf’s flaws have been made clear since Greg Norman’s start-up appeared in June 2022.
“I think what LIV has done, it’s exposed the flaws in the system of what golf has, because we’re all supposed to be independent contractors and we can pick and choose what tournaments we want to play,” he said.
“But I think what LIV and the Saudis have exposed is that if you’re going on a tour and you’re asking sponsors for millions of dollars to sponsor these events, and you’re not able to guarantee to the sponsors that the players are going to show up.
“I can’t believe the PGA Tour has done so well for so long. It’s exposed some flaws in the system that hopefully golf will have a look at more.
“If we’re going to ask these people for so much money, we need to be able to guarantee them what they’re getting.
“Part of the stuff that we’ve been trying to do for the last two years is figure out how we can try and bring golf back together again and learn from some of the things that have happened.
“I feel like there was a way to do it where it wasn’t going to be a massive disruptor to the game, and that’s another thing for me, it’s created a massive upheaval in professional golf which is sad to see.
“Some people have taken one side and some people have taken another, and golf is a small enough sport, it’s not like football where you’ve got billions of fans, so if you start dividing the eyeballs in professional golf, it’s not good for anyone.”
McIlroy told the podcast he met with PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan at the end of 2022 in Dubai where they had a “good chat.”
But even McIlroy, a player in the thick of the tour’s operations, was shocked at the June 6 announcement and how quickly the framework agreement was delivered.
PGA Tour chief executive Jay Monahan informed players in a memo on December 31 that the deadline to reach a deal with the Public Investment Fund had been extended.
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