The four-time major champion expects the rebel league to “go away” at some stage following the announcement of the stunning new deal which has begged many questions in the last 24 hours.
Having been such a vocal supporter of the US circuit, on which he has won 23 times, he described himself as somewhat of a “sacrificial lamb” after remaining loyal to the PGA Tour, while it seems the defectors could be offered a pathway back to their old homes.
McIlroy was quick to shut down claims the tour has merged with LIV Golf, a league run by two-time major champion Greg Norman with whom the Northern Irishman hasn’t seen eye to eye within the last 12 months.
“That’s the thing. I still hate LIV. Like, I hate LIV,” he explained in Toronto. “I hope it goes away. And I would fully expect that it does.
“And 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 what the PGA Tour is and what the PGA Tour stands for. And I think it will continue to do that. Going forward I hope that – there may be a team element and you’re going to see, maybe me, maybe whoever else 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.”
McIlroy revealed Jimmy Dunne, part of the PGA Tour Policy Board and the new Executive Committee, rang him at 6.30am on Tuesday morning to explain the deal with the PIF and how it took shape after seven weeks of discussions.
He was aware discussions were ongoing at that time, but admitted the quickness of the announcement was unexpected. Dunne described the situation to McIlroy over the phone as comparable to a shot over water with 280 yards to the green.
“You just got to go for it,” he allegedly said.
The PIF has funded the LIV Golf League since it began in June 2022 at Centurion Golf Club near London.
Its Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan has joined the PGA Tour’s Policy Board and will be Chairman of the new entity that supposedly aims to “unify the game of golf.”
Despite the links of sportswashing and human rights issues associated with Saudi Arabia, McIlroy has been resigned to allowing their inevitable involvement in top-tier golf to take shape.
“I’ve come to terms with it,” he said. “I see what’s happened in other sports. I see what’s happened in other businesses. And, honestly, I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that this is what’s going to happen.
“It’s very hard to keep up with people that have more money than anyone else. And, again, if they want to put that money into the game of golf, then why don’t we partner with them and make sure that it’s done in the right way.”
McIlroy was reportedly involved in a verbal altercation with fellow PGA Tour member Grayson Murray during yesterday’s player’s meeting, a meeting he confirmed was “heated.”
Monahan was put under significant pressure and scrutiny from various players, and was allegedly accused of hypocrisy by some of the 100-something attendees at Oakdale Golf and Country Club.
Having played a big part in the tour’s player-led approach in 2023, McIlroy stated those who defected to LIV Golf won’t be welcomed back with open arms and he still maintains his confidence in Monahan, despite what has been a difficult week for the commissioner so far.
“I said it to Jay yesterday. You’ve galvanised everyone against something and that thing that you galvanised everyone against you’ve now partnered with.
“It is hypocritical – it sounds hypocritical. The one thing I would say is, again, whether you like it or not, the PIF and the Saudis want to spend money on the game of golf.
“They want to do this. And they weren’t going to stop. The thing for me and this is the one thing that I’ve always thought about, how can we get that money into the game, but use it the right way. And I think that’s what this ultimately will do, hopefully. I mean, that’s my hope.”
Follow NCG on Twitter!
Is Donald the only choice for Bethpage in 2025?