Rory McIlroy remains feisty, sharp, and desperate to take down LIV Golf, the Saudi-backed league, but he has spent much of the past year denigrating him as a compromising intruder. I kept going.
“I hate LIV,” McIlroy, one of the new circuit’s scariest critics, said Wednesday. “I hope it goes away, and I fully expect it to.”
He also seems reluctant to accept what may be a hurtful, humble reality that PGA Tour executives believe is real. The surest way to unleash LIV’s fangs, he said, would be forging partnerships that would allow him to recover the Saudi gold that Tour accuses.
McIlroy’s calculations, which he detailed the day after the Tour, blinded the golf world with the announcement of an agreement that Saudi officials had worked out in secret, is not yet formally the final word on a tentative deal. . But McIlroy, one of the world’s most celebrated players, is one of the few people sitting on the PGA Tour’s board of directors, and his acquiescence immediately boosted the deal’s prospects.
McIlroy remains one of the most trusted backstops, even as he tries to lift the burden of being one of the Tour’s prominent spokesmen.
He says the role distracts him from his game. Considering the PGA Tour has been thrown into turmoil this week, he may remain on the scene for some time.
McIlroy’s backing of the deal, as well as removing future board hurdles, would create a Saudi-funded company that would be managed by the PGA Tour and handle deals with rival circuits. effectively signed a mandate to persuade a disorientated person. Let the world know that the PGA Tour remains a worthy and defensible adventure.
He admitted on Wednesday that the favorable change to the tour was “hypocritical”. He confessed to feeling betrayed, saying, “It’s hard to sit here feeling like a sacrificial lamb and feeling like this is going to happen when you’ve exposed yourself.” He acknowledged there were “ambiguities” in the deal and said he “doesn’t understand all the intricacies of what’s going on”.
But his contract sales pitch, if legitimate, was perhaps the least confusing glimpse into his tour strategy over the coming weeks and months. That may not calm the storm within the circuit on which he staked his reputation. Few, after all, are happy to be outside the loop, and tour participants have learned that the leadership is personally dealing with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the head of the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund. Very few people were there.
McIlroy’s cautious endorsement is no guarantee of a deal, but a sure easing of it, even as the world’s No. 3 player already finds himself trying to account for the nuances of corporate structure. become.
Looking ten years into the future, McIlroy predicted that the deal would be “good for professional golf.”
“There’s still a lot of work to be done,” McIlroy said Wednesday in Toronto, where tour events are scheduled to begin on Thursday. “But at least this means no more litigation, which is a huge strain on Tour officials and everyone who plays the Tour, and we are working towards some way of unifying the game at an elite level. We can start working on it.”
Details of the PGA Tour’s new partnership with Saudi Arabia have yet to be revealed. But when the new company is formed, Mr. Tour is expected to have a majority of seats on the board. The outcome for the Saudis, besides the promise of exclusive investment rights in the company, is that Al Rumayyan will become chairman of the company.
Saudi wealthy funds, which are pouring money into global sports at large, have effectively put the Tour in their hands, and by extension McIlroy’s. By Wednesday morning, less than a day after McIlroy was first briefed about the deal, he said he “agreed” to the prospect that Saudi money would underwrite golf in the future.
“We’re looking at what’s going on in other sports, what’s going on in other businesses, but honestly we’re just accepting the fact that this is what’s going to happen,” McIlroy said. rice field. “It’s very difficult to keep up with people who have more money than everyone else.”
McIlroy and others thought a means of controlling how Saudi money would compete through golf would be valuable something – Especially if, as McIlroy said Wednesday, he is desperate to “protect the future of the PGA Tour and preserve the ambitious nature that the PGA Tour stands for.”
“If you’re thinking about the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, would you partner them or make them your enemies?” McIlroy asked. “At the end of the day, money matters, so you want them as partners.”
McIlroy wasn’t particularly shaken by meeting reporters the day after his public belly punch on the tour, but he quickly turned his attention back to golf, hitting balls on the driving range and preparing for next week’s U.S. Open in Los Angeles. Angeles said to aim for victory towards.
We could win there, or we could win in Toronto this weekend.
But while McIlroy’s prized Tour contemplates what to do with the circuit he despises, the turmoil is far from over. Until that happens, McIlroy will likely face two challenges. It’s about winning golf tournaments and managing to defend a tour that suddenly looks a bit like the one he whips up so often.