Tour Wars: Rory McIlroy Suddenly Calls for Peace Talks With LIV Golf

Rory McIlroy Greg Norman Dustin Johnson Jay Monahan Bryson DeChambeau PGA Tour LIV Golf
It's the LIV Golf League vs the PGA Tour: Starring Rory McIlroy, Greg Norman, Bryson Dechambeau, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Jay Monahan, among others. (Artwork: Kevin J. for Pro Golf Weekly)

To the victor goes the spoils… The loser calls for common ground.

So, when the PGA Tour’s lead bomb thrower suddenly starts smoking the peace pipe, you know things aren’t quite going as planned for the tax-exempt monopoly down in Ponte Vedra.

Yesterday, Rory McIlroy, who has bashed the LIV Golf effort since day one, including the now famous words, “dead in the water” when predicting the breakaway tour’s feasibility, unexpectedly called for the two tours to find common ground.

(Question: If the PGA Tour were winning the information war, would they a.) call for “common ground,” or b.) try to crush them? Answer below.)

“That needs to happen,” answered McIlroy, when asked about future negotiations, during an interview with the BBC. “I wish it hadn’t got that messy. In hindsight, there were probably steps that were missed that wouldn’t have made it as messy.

“Everyone has to pivot and change and try to be better and hopefully get to that stage but – all the narrative isn’t good. It’s splitting the game instead of everyone coming together.”

Brooks Koepka 2022 LIV Golf-Portland
Team Captain Brooks Koepka of Smash GC warms up on the putting green during day 3 of the LIV Golf Invitational – Portland at Pumpkin Ridge GC on July 2, 2022 in North Plains, Oregon. (Photo by Chris Trotman for LIV Golf via Getty Images)

For months, the PGA Tour, including McIlroy, and its media allies, have used one line of attack: we are virtuous, while LIV Golf is being bankrolled by Saudi “blood money” (the same “blood money” that owns a piece of Twitter, Apple, and even the PGA Tour’s Fan Shop).

On Wednesday, though, McIlroy blew up that misleading talking point, finally admitting that the Saudis – by the way of Aramco (the state-owned oil giant) and PIF (the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund) – are already deeply embedded in the professional sports space, including the sponsorship of the Ladies European Tour (LET).

In fact, earlier this week, LET’s Aramco Team Series presented by PIF (the same so-called “blood money”) announced that world No. 2 Nelly Korda, and sister Jessica, have committed to its Spain event in August.

Nelly Korda and her sister Jessica Korda
Nelly Korda and her sister Jessica Korda have fun posing with the trophy after Nelly won the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give at Blythefield CC on June 20, 2021 in Grand Rapids, MI. (Photo by Gregory Shamus via Getty Images)

“There’s so much chat about where the money is coming from – Saudi and everything else. They sponsor so many other things. They are all over sport,” said McIlroy.

“I understand people’s reservations with things. But at the same time, if these people are serious about investing billions of dollars into golf, I think ultimately that’s a good thing — but it has to be done the right way, and I think if they were to invest, having it be invested inside the existing structures.

“And I think that’s the thing I’ve tried to advocate for the last few months.

“I think at this point, if people are wanting to spend that much money into golf, that’s wonderful. I just wish that we could have spent that much money within the structure that has existed for many decades in golf instead of being this big disruptor.”

Translation: McIlroy realizes the Saudis are fully committed to investing billions into the pro golf marketplace – one way or another, and he’d prefer some of it end up in his bank account.

Answer to the above question? “B” of course.


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