PGA Tour star Rory McIlroy did not take LIV’s money and doesn’t like them at all. And after news of the PGA Tour-LIV merger on Tuesday, none of that has changed.
The Irish superstar addressed the merger that would bring all major professional golf leagues – the PGA Tour, LIV, and the DP World Tour – into one massive for-profit golf league while speaking to reporters on Wednesday at the RBC Canadian Open.
“It is hard for me not to feel like a sacrificial lamb,” McIlroy said. “I put myself out there.”
Indeed, McIlroy became one of the “frontmen” for the PGA Tour during its roughly year-long faux war with LIV. He and several other prominent PGA Tour golfers turned down tens of millions of dollars from the Saudi-backed rival league to stick with the PGA Tour, an organization that many of them seemed was actually fighting against LIV, not merely waiting for appropriate terms for surrender.
Specifically, McIlroy is said to have turned down a nine-figure offer from LIV.
McIlroy says he was caught off guard by news of the merger.
“I learned about it at pretty much the same time that everyone else did,” McIlroy said. “And yeah, it was a surprise. I knew there had been discussions going on in the background, I knew that lines of communication had been opened up. I obviously didn’t expect it to happen as quickly as it did.”
The behavior of PGA Tour chief Jay Monahan throughout the ordeal with LIV has been incredibly bizarre.
He suspended players for joining the rival league, filed lawsuits, and even, at one point, alluded to the memory of 9/11 when addressing the fact that the Saudi government funds LIV.
“I have two families that are close to me that lost loved ones,” Monahan said at the RBC Canadian Open less than a year ago. “My heart goes out to them, and I would ask that any player that has left, or that would ever consider leaving, have you ever had to apologise for being a member of the PGA Tour?”
Still, despite all that, when asked if he still has confidence in Monahan, who will serve as the CEO of the PGA Tour in the new power structure with LIV, he answered flatly, “I do.”
“I’ve dealt with Jay a lot closer than a lot of those guys have and from where we were a couple of weeks ago to where we are today, I think the future of the PGA Tour looks brighter as a whole,” McIlroy said.
“What that looks like for individual players in keeping a Tour card, bringing players back into the fold, that’s where the anger comes from. I understand that and there still has to be consequences to actions. The people that left the PGA Tour irreparably harmed this Tour, started litigation against it.
“We can’t just welcome them back in. That’s not going to happen. That’s what Jay was trying to get across yesterday.”
McIlroy continued, “Removing myself from the situation, I see how this is better for the game of golf, there’s no denying it. For me as an individual, there’s just going to have to be conversations that are had.”
If anyone thought that McIlroy was ready to let bygones be bygones, think again.
“I still hate LIV,” McIlroy said. “Like, I hate LIV. I hope it goes away, and I fully expect that it does.”