Rory McIlroy has been among many players on the PGA Tour who have voiced their displeasure about the forthcoming merger with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tournament. The deal, announced last week, will link the game’s three biggest entities – with the European Tour also in the mix – to create one colossal conglomerate.
While some of the game’s elite have ripped the decision based on political stances and public relations, others feel as if they were left hanging when it came to loyalty. The Saudi Investment Fund was offering huge money to golf’s greatest names, and they even managed to sign the likes of Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, and Martin Kaymer. They also boasted the legendary ‘Shark’, Greg Norman, as its CEO.
So, LIV essentially used its limitless wealth to purchase an instant spot at the table, much to the chagrin of traditionalists, players, media, and fans.
Monster breaking news Tuesday morning as the PGA Tour and LIV announce a merger that no one saw coming — we react to the stunning developments in the world of golf:#PGATour #LIVGolf pic.twitter.com/67rjShGkJ1
— Rich Eisen Show (@RichEisenShow) June 6, 2023
All ended however last Monday, when everyone agreed to play nice and divide the slices of one, big profitable pie.
The Irishmen stated at the press conference following the RBC Canadian Open that he still hates LIV Golf, and wants it to “go away”. Over the course of nearly two years, he became one of the main spokesmen for the PGA Tour during its rivalry with LIV.
He and several other players turned down tens of millions of dollars to stay loyal to the Pro Golfer’s Association. They felt like they were not only being faithful to golf’s biggest governing body but also standing up against the human rights violations that Saudi Arabia has been credibly accused of for decades.
Initially, the PGA appeared to be in lockstep with the names who stayed put. They were also quick to admonish those that departed and made sure to highlight the totalitarian tactics of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Not the least of which was the high-profile murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey in 2018. MBS and his regime were rumored to be behind the plot to kill the Saudi-born columnist.
That was then and this is now, all water under the bridge. With the three leagues set to begin moving forward together following the 2023 season.
Players who left the PGA for LIV will be eligible to apply for reinstatement then, a decision that has ruffled a LOT of feathers among the Tour’s leftovers.
When speaking on the huge turn of events last week, Rory McIlroy didn’t hold back. He said regardless of the merger, it doesn’t change how he feels about LIV or anything that it brought to the game.
Rory McIlroy shares his thoughts on Tuesday's announcement.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 7, 2023
“I learned about it at pretty much the same time that everyone else did,” Rory McIlroy said. “And yeah, it was a surprise. I knew there had been discussions going on in the background, I knew that lines of communication had been opened up. I obviously didn’t expect it to happen as quickly as it did.”
“What that looks like for individual players in keeping a Tour card, bringing players back into the fold, that’s where the anger comes from. I understand that and there still has to be consequences to actions. The people that left the PGA Tour irreparably harmed this Tour, started litigation against it.
“We can’t just welcome them back in. That’s not going to happen. That’s what Jay was trying to get across yesterday,” McIlroy continued, “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.”
“I still hate LIV,” he reiterated. “Like, I hate LIV. I hope it goes away, and I fully expect that it does.”