Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy revealed he held talks with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund amid the power struggle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. McIlroy has vehemently opposed LIV Golf since its controversial launch two years ago, resisting as several stars signed for eye-watering sums.
Last month, the divide between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf deepend as Jon Rahm became the latest big name to defect in favour of the breakaway tour backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. The Spaniard agreed a deal worth up to £450 million, representing the biggest coup for the circuit since its noisy arrival as a rival to the PGA Tour.
Rahm’s shock switch was accelerated by the shock announcment in June that LIV Golf was set to sensationally merge with the PGA Tour. PIF has received staunch opposition since it began entering sports, with many pointing to its human rights atrocities as a factor, but the merger was a stunning development that left many players disillusioned.
The merger ensured the pending legal dispute between the tours will be put to the side as the two bodies attempt to co-exist as a single entity. A signed agreement will combine the PGA Tour and LIV’s commercial operations and rights into a new company that is yet-to-be-named, along with the DP World Tour.
News of the merger sent a seismic shock around the golf world, and McIlroy admitted the agreement happened very quickly. The 34-year-old revealed he held discussions with PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan following the 2022 season, with their talk centered around the team aspect presented by LIV Golf.
“I met Yasir Al-Rumayyan at the end of 2022 in Dubai, and said ‘what do you want?’, and we had a good chat,” McIlroy told the Stick to Football podcast. “He loves the game of golf and wants to do certain things – he thinks the team element in golf can really take off and try to build franchise value in some of these teams.
“When I got back to America at the start of 2023, I was on the board of the PGA Tour and told them that someone must talk to this guy [Al-Rumayyan]. There was a plan put in place that one of the board members would try and develop a relationship with him, to see if we could try and figure something out and all move forward together.
“I knew that there were conversations being had, but I didn’t know that it would happen so quickly. Then on June 6th, the framework was announced – a lot of the players were angered by it because they were completely blindsided by it.”
McIlory has been an impassioned opponent of LIV Golf, which has recruited high-profile players and fractured golf. The LIV Golf and PGA Tour potential merger was expected to be finalised by the end of 2023, although the deadline has since been extended. Talks will continue in 2024.