Rory McIlroy’s Tame Tone on Merger Isn’t Surprising

Rory McIlroy, 2023 RBC Canadian Open,(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy, 2023 RBC Canadian Open,(Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

As one of the most shocking weeks in recent golf history closes out, it has been observed that noted and previously outspoken LIV critic Rory McIlroy has kept his words on the merger more tamed and accepting than fans may have anticipated.

The four-time major winners’ first public comments regarding the PGA Tour, LIV Golf, and DP World Tour merger came Wednesday morning at the RBC Canadian Open media availability, where he is currently defending his title and a two-time winner of the event.

After briefly confirming that the news was as relatively as much of a shock to him as the rest of the world (albeit from sharing he knew conversations in the background had been taking place), McIlroy put his LIV sword down and fixated on the business side of the controversial merger.

"“I think ultimately, when I try to remove myself from the situation and I look at the bigger picture and I look at 10 years down the line, I think ultimately this is going to be, it’s going to be good for the game of professional golf. I think it secures the — it unifies it and it secures its financial future,” the defending champ said."

McIlroy then shared his belief that the merger allows everyone to “work toward some sort of way of unifying the game at the elite level.”

When McIlroy was asked if he is “excited or optimistic” about the merge and how he sees the future, the Northern Irishman returned to his PGA Tour purist tone to quickly set the message straight on LIV’s actual involvement moving forward.

"“I think with the headlines being, ‘merges with LIV,’ like that’s not the — I mean, if you look at the structure of how it’s structured now, this new company sits above everything. Jay’s the CEO of that. So technically anyone that is involved with LIV now would answer to Jay. So the PGA TOUR have control of everything.”And one thing as well is, whether you like it or not, the PIF were going to keep spending the money in golf. At least the PGA TOUR now controls how that money is spent. So, you know, if you’re thinking about one of the biggest sovereign wealth funds in the world, would you rather have them as a partner or an enemy? At the end of the day, money talks and you would rather have them as a partner.”"

Whether McIlroy’s soundbite was part of his interview to be Jay Monahan’s spokesperson or him convincing himself that LIV Golf will go away (as he later in the press conference expressed his hope for), his tone and stance on the decision are in line with his comments over the past year.

Within the quotes resurfaced from CBS Sport’s Kyle Porter lies a familiar tone toward PIF money going toward the PGA Tour and “existing structures” (not LIV).

“Ultimately, do you want more money being invested into the PGA Tour? I think, yes, that would be great. And if these guys are willing to do that and scrap the whole LIV thing [that would be ideal],” McIlroy said last year.

Also shared within his quotes were examples of Saudi money benefiting other major sports, even the adjacent LPGA. To that, he added his own sport could benefit from similar investments, so long as it is “done the right way,” (without any new structures like LIV, one would assume).

While Rory McIlroy’s comments may not be hypocritical of his past anti-LIV tirades, one has to wonder how realistic his affirmations of LIV Golf disappearing are, as the two currently do not share the same image for the path forward.

“LIV is not going anywhere. We are — and we will continue to be — a stand-alone entity. It is business as usual for us for this year and beyond,” LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman told ESPN on Thursday.

As for current PGA Tour CEO and soon-to-be CEO of the new PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and PIF entity Jay Monahan, he has not ruled out team golf as part of the future.

"“I don’t want to make any statements or make any predictions,” Monahan said. “But what is in place is a commitment to make a good-faith effort to look at team golf and the role it can play going forward.”"

Next. LACC gets a chance to show off its Major credentials. dark

According to ESPN, Monahan may be the most realistic with his vision, as their sources have said that “if there’s a team concept in future seasons, it won’t be in the form of the LIV Golf League — and it won’t include Norman,” ESPN reported.

The future of the PGA Tour remains noise in the foreground on the heels of golf’s third Major and will undoubtedly be a hot topic next week with several LIV Golfers part of the U.S. Open field at Los Angeles Country Club.