Rory McIlroy has revealed he had “a frank discussion” with Jordan Spieth after the American declared the PGA Tour no longer needed to strike a deal with the Saudis.
Spieth’s comments in the wake of a £2.4 billion investment in the Tour by a US consortium led by the owners of Liverpool disappointed McIlroy so much that he quit a group chat featuring the circuit’s best players.
Once LIV’s biggest critic, McIlroy, who three months ago resigned from the Tour’s policy board after “feeling like I was just banging my head against the wall” has recently been adamant that without the £700 billion Public Investment Fund as a partner, there will be no unity in the professional male game.
And Spieth’s flippant dismissal clearly worried the world No 2 in this regard. “The short answer is we don’t have to [bring them on board],” Spieth said, when asked about the necessity to strike peace with PIF.
That does not sit well with McIlroy, as he explained to Sports Illustrated. “Having PIF as your partner as opposed to not having them as your partner, I don’t think is an option for the game of golf,” McIlroy said. “I think they’re committed to investing in golf and in the wider world of sport and if you can get them to invest their money the right way to unify the game of golf.”
Negotiations are ongoing between the Tour and PIF, although after last Tuesday’s announcement of the partnership with the Strategic Sports Group, the ball is plainly in the Saudis’ court.
“If I were PIF hearing that, it wouldn’t have made me too happy”
Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of PIF, has assured the LIV golfers the breakaway league will continue and could well decide to abandon the “framework agreement” signed alongside the Tour and the DP World Tour last summer.
Having spent more than £500 million in the last month on new captures – including Ryder Cup heroes Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton – Al-Rumayyan has signalled his intention to keep strengthening the LIV roster and if he does choose to keep going it alone, the sport will obviously remain fractured.
McIlroy believes that Spieth’s statements risk forcing Al-Rumayyan’s hand. “I talked to him [Spieth] about his comments, and we had a pretty frank discussion,” McIlroy said. “My thing was if I’m the original investor that thought that they were going to get this deal done back in July, and I’m hearing a board member say that, you know, we don’t really need them, now, how are they going to think about that, what are they gonna feel about that?
“They are still sitting out there with hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, that they’re gonna pour it into sport, and I know what Jordan was saying… but if I were PIF and I was hearing that, the day after doing this SSG deal, it wouldn’t have made me too happy.”