Rory McIlroy, a staunch anti-Saudi voice, now feels like a ‘sacrificial lamb’ amid Live Golf deal

Rory McIlroy, the strongest voice against Saudi-funded LIV Golf which has caused so much turmoil in golf, said on Wednesday he now feels like a “sacrificial lamb” with the stunning reversal of the PGA Tour becoming a partner of Saudi Arabia’s massive wealth fund..

It was McIlroy who helped lead a players-only meeting last August that reshaped the PGA Tour to fend off the challenge of LIV Golf. He has been the loudest critic, and sits on the tour’s policy board. He was among the last to hear the news shortly before it broke.

“It’s hard for me not to sit here and feel a little bit like a sacrificial lamb, and feel like I put myself out there and that’s what happens,” McIlroy said at the RBC Canadian Open. title holder.

Again, after removing myself from the situation, I see how this is better for golf. “There’s no denying it,” he said, “but for me as an individual, yeah, there just has to be conversations.”

McIlroy was at the player’s meeting on Tuesday afternoon PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan faced heavy criticism from members who questioned why the tour was getting money from the Public Investment Fund and why they weren’t informed.

But the four-time major champion also felt let down that Saudi Arabia would continue to invest in golfand that making an enemy a minority investor would help in the long run.

“I see what happens in other sports. I see what happens in other businesses,” he said. “It’s very difficult to keep up with people who have more money than anyone else. And again, if they want to put that money into golf, why don’t we partner with them and make sure it’s done the right way. And that’s kind of where my head is. “

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McIlroy opposed the idea of ​​merging the PGA Tour with LIV Golf. The future of LIV Golf remains to be determined, the rival league run by Greg Norman that paid signing bonuses of $100 million or more to attract players and then offered $25 million on 48-player no-cut courses over 54 holes.

The agreement – which has not yet been finalized – pertains to the PGA Tour, the European Tour and the Public Investment Fund to combine the businesses. One of PIF’s companies is LIV Golf, which will essentially be under the control of the new, still-unnamed company.

“I still hate LIV — like, I hate LIV,” said McIlroy. “I hope he goes away. And I expect he does just that. And I think that’s where the discrimination is here.”

Monahan is the CEO of the new company. Yasser Al-Rumayyan, Governor of the Public Investment Fund, will be Chairman of the Board. Also on that board will be Jimmy Dunn and Ed Herlihy, the two PGA Tour board members who brought Monahan and the two shooters together.

“Technically, anyone involved with LIV now would respond to Jay,” McIlroy said.

Sports Illustrated reported that Norman, LIV’s commissioner and CEO, held a 30-minute conference call with staff on Wednesday morning to make sure LIV was alive and well.

It quoted a person on the call, who was not identified, quoting Norman as saying, “The spigot is now wide open for commercial sponsorships, blue chip companies, and TV networks. LIV is and will remain a standalone organization. Our business model is not going to change. We have changed history and we are not going.” to anyplace “.

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Monahan went to the Golf Channel ahead of the Canadian Open, and referred to the agreement as “a great day, something that will pay off” over time.

But he acknowledged that “surprise is a shock to the membership”, which he said was a setback that could only be addressed by talking to the players and explaining the new direction.

“I don’t expect everyone to get it right away,” Monahan said.

McIlroy said he felt the future of the tour was brighter as a whole. The key point going forward is how the tour handles returning players who defected to LIV Golf — 11 of whom, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, have sued the tour for antitrust violations..

These lawsuits are dismissed as part of the agreement.

“That’s where the anger comes from. And I understand that,” McIlroy said. “There still has to be consequences for the actions. The people who left the PGA Tour damaged this tour beyond repair, and started litigation against it. We can’t welcome them back. It’s not going to happen.”

“I guess that’s the one thing Jay was trying to cross yesterday is, guys, we’re not going to just bring these guys back and pretend nothing happened.”

This division cost McElroy many long friendshipsLike Sergio Garcia. He said all he wanted was to protect the future of the PGA Tour, and he hopes this agreement will take care of that.

McElroy said LIV Golf never made him an offer because it was clear from the start that it was going nowhere.

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“Like it or not, the PIF will continue to spend money in golf. At least the PGA Tour now controls how that money is spent,” he said. “If you were considering one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, would you rather be a partner or an enemy? At the end of the day, money talks and you would rather be a partner.”

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