The word “merger” has been used to describe the PGA Tour’s new deal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), partially because the tour used the word “merge” in its press release announcing the historic partnership on Wednesday.
However, the new alliance is with the PIF, the financial backer of the tour’s rival LIV Golf and not LIV Golf itself, as Rory McIlroy pointed out overnight.
Speaking with the media ahead of this week’s RBC Canadian Open, McIlroy – who has served as the face of the PGA Tour during its battle with the Saudi-backed league – expressed that his feelings towards LIV remain unchanged.
“It’s not LIV. That’s the thing. I still hate LIV,” McIlroy said. “Like, I 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. Going forward there may be a team element, and you’re going to see, maybe me, maybe whoever else play in some sort of team golf. But I don’t think it will look anything like LIV has looked, and I think that’s a good thing.”
As for the “merger” part of Wednesday’s announcement, McIlroy said that part has been “misconstrued” in terms of the structure and LIV Golf’s part in the new deal.
“LIV’s got nothing to do with this. The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and the Public Investment Fund are basically partnering to create a new company,” McIlroy said. “This has gotten – I think that’s where I was a little frustrated. Because all I’ve wanted to do and all I’ve wanted in the past year, from basically this tournament, is to protect the future of the PGA Tour and protect the aspirational nature of what the PGA Tour stands for. I hope that this does that.
“But I think with the headlines being, ‘merges with LIV,’ like that’s not the – I mean, if you look at the structure now, this new company sits above everything. Jay’s the CEO of that. Technically anyone who is involved with LIV now would answer to Jay. So the PGA Tour has control of everything.”
Over the past three years McIlroy has been an outspoken critic of the controversial funding of LIV Golf, funding that is now part of the PGA Tour’s structure. Asked about the uneasy element, McIlroy said “I’ve come to terms with it.”
“I see what’s happened in other sports. I see what’s happened in other businesses,” McIlroy explained.
“Honestly, I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that this is, you know, this is what’s going to happen. It’s very hard to keep up with people who have more money than anyone else. Again, if they want to put that money into the game of golf, then why don’t we partner with them and make sure that it’s done in the right way. That’s sort of where my head’s at.”