Rory McIlroy feels 'like a sacrificial lamb' over PGA Tour merger

"Removing myself from the situation, I see how this better for the game of golf - there's no denying that"
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.19 7 Jun 2023

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Rory McIlroy feels 'like a sac...

Rory McIlroy feels 'like a sacrificial lamb' over PGA Tour merger

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.19 7 Jun 2023

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Golfer Rory McIlroy has said he feels 'somewhat like a sacrificial lamb' after a merger was announced between the PGA Tour and its Saudi-backed rival LIV Golf.

The LIV Golf series is bankrolled by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, and critics have accused it of being a vehicle for the country to attempt to improve its reputation in the face of criticism of its human rights record.

The Northern Ireland golfer reportedly turned down a €400m contract last year from the Saudi breakaway. On Wednesday, McIlroy said he was "never offered any money."


At a press conference ahead of this week's Canadian Open, he said conversations will have to be had.

"It's hard for me to not sit up here and not feel somewhat like a sacrificial lamb," McIlroy said.

"Feeling like I've put myself out there and this is what happens.

"Removing myself from the situation, I see how this is better for the game of golf - there's no denying that.

"For me as an individual, there's going to have to be conversations that are had".

'LIV has nothing to do with this'

McIllory said LIV has nothing to do with this new arrangement.

"The one thing I think was really misconstrued yesterday was all the headlines were, 'PGA Tour merges with LIV'" he said.

"LIV has got nothing to do with this.

"It's the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and the [Saudi Arabia] Public Investment Fund are basically partnering to create a new company.

"All I've wanted to do... is to protect the future of the PGA Tour and protect the aspitational nature of what the PGA Tour stands for.

"I hope that this does that - but I think with the headlines being 'Merges with LIV'... if you look at the structure of how it's structured down, this new company sits above everything.

"The PGA Tour have control of everything".

Rory McIlroy looks on during a practice round of The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in April 2022. Picture by: Cal Sport Media / Alamy Stock Photo

McIllory said he understood that choices had to be made.

"Whether you like it or not, the PIF are going to keep spending money in golf... at least the PGA Tour now controls how that money is spent," he said.

"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'd rather have them as a partner".

'I hope it goes away'

McIlroy said that despite welcoming the new entity, "I still hate LIV."

"I hope it goes away and I would fully expect that it does.

"That's where the distinction here is: this is the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and the PIF - very different from LIV.

"All I've tried to do is protect what the PGA Tour is and what the PGA Tour stands for".

'I didn't expect it to happen'

McIlroy said he learned about the deal in a phone call on Tuesday morning.

"I got a text message on Monday night from Jimmy Dunne, saying 'Can I give you a call in the morning?'" he said.

"Jimmy rang me at about 6.30 yesterday morning - took me through the news, the deal, the structure of the deal, what it meant for us, the DP World Tour.

"So yeah, I learned about it pretty much at the same time everyone else did.

"It was a surprise. I knew there had been discussions going on in the background. I knew lines of communication had been opened up.

"I obviously didn't expect it to happen as quickly as it did."

McIlroy said the deal will likely be good for golf in the longer-term.

"I think, ultimately, when I try to remove myself from the situation and look at the bigger picture and 10 years down the line, I think this is going to be good for the game of professional golf," he said.

"It unifies it and it secures its financial future," he added.

Main image: Rory McIlroy speaking during a press conference in July 2019 ahead of the Open Championship at Royal Portrush in Co Antrim. Picture by: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

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Canadian Open Dp World Tour LIV LIV Golf McIllory PGA Tour Public Investment Fund Rory McIlroy Sacrificial Lamb Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund

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