[PHOTO: Michael Reaves]

Were he not competing in this week’s $US20 million Memorial Tournament, Rory McIlroy would probably be in New York, where representatives of the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia meet Friday afternoon for their first face-to-face meeting since mid-March in the Bahamas.

“I was almost going to jump on a plane and go there in person,” McIlroy told a small group of reporters after carding an opening two-under 70 at Muirfield Village Golf Club (overnight, Australian time, he shot a second-round 71). “I think a video call will suffice, so yeah, I’ll hop on that call tomorrow. Thankfully, I was able to get a late/early tee-time.”

Funny how that worked out.

Referring to the meeting as “big boy stuff”, McIlroy has been a part of the ongoing negotiations between the tour and PIF, which provides the financial support for the rival LIV Golf League, as the two sides continue to hammer out a resolution to the framework agreement announced one year ago this week. The four-time major winner, whose opposition to LIV has evolved since it first launched in 2022, is a member of the tour’s transaction committee.

Taking stock on anniversary of framework deal. Where does it stand? What’s next? How long will it take? Will it ever happen?

That committee, he said, has been meeting with PIF representatives every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the past few weeks. But Friday’s meeting will include attendance by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan. Tiger Woods and Adam Scott also are expected to attend, as well as John Henry from Strategic Sports Group, the organisation that made a $US3 billion investment in January into the tour’s for-profit entity, PGA Tour Enterprises.

“We’re there to maybe give a perspective from player’s point of view, but I mean this is a negotiation about an investment into PGA Tour Enterprises,” McIlroy said at Muirfield Village. “This is big boy stuff and I’ll certainly be doing more listening than I will be talking. And I think, depending on what the Department of Justice allows, it might have to be a very passive investment and I mean, I don’t know what’s in their head, but I don’t know if that’s something that they’re willing to do. We’ll find out. We’ll find out in the next few weeks.”

What does seem clear to McIlroy is that LIV probably isn’t going away anytime soon. That means the split in men’s professional golf could linger.

“I haven’t heard any of those guys say that they don’t want to play [in LIV] either,” he said. “You’ve got guys that are on contracts until 2028, 2029. So looking a few years down the line, I would say that LIV is going to continue to sort of keep going down its path, but hopefully with maybe more of a collaborative or more of an understanding between the tours. Whether there’s some cross-pollination there where players can start to play on both, I guess that’ll all be talked about in the coming weeks.”