Brooks Koepka has pounced on Rory McIlory’s softening stance on opposition to LIV Golf by sharing a comical meme on social media. Four-time major winner McIlory has been one of the most vocal adversaries of the Saudi-funded breakaway tour over the past 18 months, effectively becoming the poster boy of the PGA Tour as a consequence.
The North Irishman admitted to feeling like a ‘sacrificial lamb’ when PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan dropped a bombshell announcement last June, confirming that the two previously warring golf tours had put their differences aside to form a ‘framework agreement’ that would see both entities work together moving forward.
Little meaningful progress has been shared with the public since the announcement and an initial deadline of December 31, 2023, to finalise the deal has been and gone, although talks are believed to be still ongoing.
But since then, McIlroy has seen Ryder Cup teammate and Masters champion Jon Rham jump ship to LIV and in doing so become one of the highest-paid sportsmen in the world with a reported £450m deal enough to buy the Spaniard’s loyalty, regardless of what happens next with the ‘framework agreement’ merger talks.
But with the PGA continuing to negotiate with their Saudi rivals – which is funded by the Arab state’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – McIlroy has started to backtrack on his original hard-line views regarding LIV Golf.
In July McIlory said: “If LIV was the last place to play on earth I’d retire.”
When asked by Neville if he would play on the LIV tour under its new guise, McIlroy said: “What I would love for LIV is for it to turn into like the IPL [Indian Premier League] of golf.
“So IPL and cricket has been a good thing. So they take two months during the calendar and we’d be like, ‘okay, you got your four weeks in May and your four weeks in November, and you go and you do this team stuff’. And it’s a bit different with a different format. If they were to do something like that, I’d be like, ‘yeah, that sounds like fun’. Because you’re least working within the ecosystem.
“You know, the Saudis basically exposed some of the flaws in the structures of professional golf. With $2 billion, they’ve been able to completely disrupt our game and expose some of those flaws and then hopefully we can sit together and think about what happens next.”
McIlroy also revealed that he had acted as a peacemaker between the PGA Tour and LIV and has even met with the PIF governor and LIV chairman Yasser Al-Rumayyan.
He went further by admitting that he had perhaps been to harsh on big-name starts like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Koepka, who all gave up their PGA tour cards to join LIV in exchange for guaranteed millions.
The Northern Irishman said: “I think at this point, I was maybe a little judgmental of the guys who went to LIV golf at the start, and I think it was a bit of a mistake on my part because I now realise that not everyone is in my position or in Tiger Wood’s position.
“We all turn professionals to make a living playing the sports that we do, and I think that’s what I realised over the last two years.”
McIlroy’s comments did not go unnoticed by five-time major winner Koepka, who was the only LIV golfer to play in last year’s Ryder Cup and finished the year as the holder of the PGA Championship, one of golf’s four majors.
The American shared an animated GIF of Kermit the Frog on social media platform X, showing the puppet smugly sipping from a cup of tea. The meme is regularly deployed by users of the platform who believe they have been proven right or have gained the upper hand in a situation.