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What is Rory McIlroy Now Saying About LIV Golf

By: | Wed 03 Jan 2024

The one thing I have learnt these past few months is never to be surprised by anything that surrounds the professional game. But I admit it - Rory McIlroy has left me speechless.

The man who has consistently been the PGA Tour’s most vocal critic of LIV Golf now says he would be prepared to play in a tournament backed by LIV if it became more like cricket's Indian Premier League.

Merger talks between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), which funds LIV, will continue after they failed to meet the December 31 deadline originally set to have a new framework in place.

McIlroy said: "I would love LIV to turn into the IPL of golf. They take two months of calendar. You go and do this team stuff and a bit different and is a different format.

"If they were to do something like that I would say 'yeah that sounds like fun' because you are working within the ecosystem.”

I have to question whether LIV would feel they were getting value for their £450m investment in Jon Rahm on the basis of being given “two months of the calendar”. 

However, the IPL, which began in 2008, has grown to be cricket's most high-profile and lucrative franchise T20 league with players paid large sums to play in the competition which is largely given a free window in the sport's calendar. And it attracts massive TV audiences - something that LIV is desperate to achieve.

Rory McIlroy

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

LIV's controversial circuit is based around team events with its 48 players split into 12 teams, and McIlroy had previously said he would quit the sport if LIV was his only option.

But speaking on the Stick to Football podcast, it is clear that McIlroy has had something of a change of heart. He said he has "accepted" LIV is "part of our sport now".

But he said the large sums given to recruited players could be better spent if LIV wanted to be true to its stated aims of growing the sport.

"The thing I have come to realise is if you have got people, or a sovereign wealth fund, wanting to spend money in your sport that is ultimately a good thing," McIlroy said.

"But you just want to get them to spend it the right way and spend it on things that are important in the game.

"Instead of giving someone $100m why don't you put $50m into grassroots programmes for the R&A or USGA. Spending that money to actually grow the game and not just buy talent would be a way better way.”

McIlroy said he regrets being "too judgemental" of players who joined LIV when the circuit was first introduced in 2022 and was more measured in his analysis of Ryder Cup team-mate Rahm's move.

"Jon is smart and sees things coming together [a merger] at some point," McIlroy said.

"He said 'OK, I will take a lot of upfront money - which is his prerogative - and if things come together I will play LIV for a year, come back on the tour and play team golf on the fringes’. It is a smart business move.”

A smart business move? There may be some who would describe as nothing more or less than greed. 

Remember that McIlroy had very different things to say when the likes of Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood joined LIV.

And McIlroy concluded with words I did not expect to hear coming out of his mouth: "I hope everyone comes back together. You have got guys on both sides that don't want it to happen. The LIV guys don't want to come back to play on the PGA Tour because they don't think they have been treated very well.

"Some of the PGA Tour guys don't want to see those other guys. People need to put their egos and feelings aside and come back together and we all move forward because that would be a good thing for golf."

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Tags: rory mcilroy PGA Tour LIV Golf daily picks

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