Rory McIlroy says LIV Golf ‘isn’t for me.’ This is his biggest reason why

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy hits a shot out of a bunker on Thursday on the 15th hole at Bay Hill.

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Rory McIlroy says LIV Golf isn’t for him. 

And the four-time major winner has at least one reason why.

He was speaking to ESPN’s Marty Smith on Wednesday, one day ahead of the start of this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, where Smith said via a post on Twitter on Thursday that he had asked McIlroy “what consideration he’s given to joining LIV.” The exchange was notable, considering McIlroy’s softening toward the league playing its third season. 

His distaste toward the tour was perhaps never more clear than on June 7 of last year, just one day after the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, the backer of LIV, had tentatively reached a funding deal. Prior to that, McIlroy had been seen as a de facto spokesman for the Tour in its fight against LIV — and as part of his comments following the arrangement, he had wanted it to be known that it was not a merger between the leagues. 

Twice, he said he “hated” LIV. Still, there had been a thought there would be uneasiness after the agreement partially brokered by Tour commissioner Jay Monahan — and McIlroy himself laid out why at the time.

“I said it to Jay yesterday,” McIlroy said. “You’ve galvanized everyone against something, and that thing that you galvanized everyone against you’ve now partnered with. So, yeah, of course I understand it. It is hypocritical. It sounds hypocritical.”

From there, McIlroy had been frequently questioned about the subject, though he participated less in the discourse. An appearance in early January on the Stick to Football podcast then offered a different-sounding tone. 

Among McIlroy’s quotes:

— “I was maybe a little judgmental of the guys who went to LIV Golf at the start. I think it was a bit of a mistake on my part because I now realize that not everyone is in my position or in Tiger Woods’ position.”

— “I’ve gone through the last two years with this altruistic approach where I’ve looked at the world the way I’ve wanted to see it. Ultimately, you can say what you want and do what you want, but at the end of the day, you’re not going to be able to change people’s minds. You’re never going to make them decide based on what you say.”

— “I think what LIV has done, it’s exposed the flaws in the system of golf … I think what LIV and the Saudis have exposed is that you’re asking for millions of dollars to sponsor these events, and you’re not able to guarantee that the players are going to show up. I can’t believe the PGA Tour has done so well for so long.”

— “I wouldn’t say I’ve lost the fight against LIV, but I’ve just accepted the fact that this is part of our sport now.”

Rory McIlroy
Whispers of leaving for LIV? Masters asterisks? Rory McIlroy smiles at first
By: Nick Piastowski

Was McIlroy’s opinion changing? Was he himself considering a move to LIV? In an interview last month with, Chubby Chandler, McIlroy’s former agent, fueled that. Then last week, ahead of the Cognizant Classic, McIlroy had the following exchange, which is presented in full for clarity:

Reporter: “Rory, I’m wondering the last time you spoke to Chubby Chandler.”

Here, the reporter and an observer in the background laughed, and McIlroy smiled. The reporter then continued.  

Reporter: “And what did you think motivated him to say what he said other than making headlines?

McIlroy: “I think he’s writing a book, so there is that. I spoke to Chubby — I might have saw him in the Middle East actually, at the start of the year. So you never know — he might know a few things. Who knows?”

Here, McIlroy laughed. The reporter then asked a second question. 

Reporter: “Well, he started by saying there’s a good chance you’d go to LIV, and then he’s — at the end, it was 10 percent. So is there a percentage that …”

McIlroy, after a drink of water: “Somewhere in the middle maybe. Who knows.”

And McIlroy smiled again. 

Was the answer all in fun? Perhaps. Was it awkward? A little. 

This week, ESPN’s Smith then asked McIlroy about LIV. Notably, McIlroy did not have a press conference ahead of the Arnold Palmer tournament. 

Smith shared his exchange via a 49-second video he tweeted out. He wrote that he had asked McIlroy directly “what consideration he’s given to joining LIV.”

This was the response:

“It’s not for me,” he began. “It’s the — I’m too much of a traditionalist. I’m too much of a — I’m steeped in the — I love winning golf tournaments and looking at the trophy and seeing that Sam Snead won this trophy or Ben Hogan or Gene Sarazen or Jack Nicklaus or Gary Player or Tiger Woods or Nick Faldo, whoever it is, the people that came before me. Like that to me is a big deal in our game. 

“If we were to all put our heads together and be like, OK, what can we do to all come back together and move forward and be a little more cohesive, then I would sort of be for that.”

So what to make of McIlroy’s latest LIV response?

There are three pieces, though they are neither revelatory or shocking. LIV is not his preference. But there’s support for reunification. He desires history. 

Still, there’s appreciation for Smith asking directly. 

And McIlroy answering. 

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at

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