‘I still hate LIV’: Rory McIlroy stresses specific detail of PGA Tour merger

Rory McIlroy speaks to the media at Oakdale Golf & Country Club on Wednesday in Toronto.

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On Wednesday, Rory McIlroy got his chance to share his thoughts on golf’s shocking merger. He sat down at about 9:30 a.m. ET following his morning pro-am to dig into the news that made national headlines in the past 24 hours — and not just on golf websites, everywhere.

“I wasn’t looking forward to this, to be honest with you,” McIlroy said. “But once we all get done here and you write your stories and say what you say what I say or quote me or whatever it is, I’m going to go to the range and do some practice and try to get ready for a golf tournament.”

McIlroy, however, did make sure to specify at least one thing that was bothering him (during a contentious time in which there were probably many). Yes, the PGA Tour and DP World Tour and PIF announced a newly formed commercial entity, which will end litigation, allow a path for LIV players to return to the PGA and DP World tours and unify the game after nearly two years of strife, but he was adamant the PGA Tour wasn’t shaking hands with LIV Golf.

“It’s not LIV,” he said. “I think that’s the thing. I still hate LIV. Like, I hate LIV. Like, I hope it goes away. And I would fully expect that it does. And I think that’s where the distinction here is. This is the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and the PIF. Very different from LIV.”

McIlroy, technically, is right. But it also might be considered splitting hairs.

PIF stands for the Public Investment Fund, which is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia and the money that fuels LIV Golf, as well as the source of the upfront cash dished to big-name players who joined the start-up league last year. Yasir Al-Rumayyan is the governor of the fund, and he appeared with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on CNBC on Tuesday morning to explain the merger.

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Under the new agreement, PIF’s golf-centric commercial businesses and rights — which includes LIV Golf — will merge with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour to create a new, collectively owned, for-profit and to-be-named entity, which the PIF will also supply with a capital investment.

Al-Rumayyan will also act as chairman of the board of directors overseeing the new commercial entity, with Monahan as CEO.

“It’s the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and the Public Investment Fund are basically partnering to create a new company,” McIlroy said. “This has gotten — I think that’s where I was a little frustrated because all I’ve wanted to do and all I’ve wanted in the past year, from basically this tournament, is to protect the future of the PGA Tour and protect the aspirational nature of what the PGA Tour stands for. And I hope that this does that. But I think with the headlines being, ‘[PGA Tour] merges with LIV,’ — I mean, if you look at the structure of how it’s structured now, this new company sits above everything. Jay’s the CEO of that. So technically anyone that is involved with LIV now would answer to Jay. So the PGA Tour has control of everything.”

Monahan, when speaking to the media on Tuesday, said the sides “just realized that we were better off together than we were fighting or apart.” He added that he’s excited for changes coming in 2024 and to go through the process of evaluating LIV and figuring out the direction of team golf.

Asked if there’s a good chance LIV Golf doesn’t exist a year from now, he said they’re still in a framework agreement at this point and didn’t want to make any statements or predictions, “but what is in place is a commitment to make a good-faith effort to look at team golf and the role it can play going forward.”

McIlroy wondered about the future of LIV Golf, too.

“So, look, going forward I hope that there’s, you know, there may be a team element and you’re going to see, maybe me, maybe whoever else play in some sort of team golf,” he said.” But I don’t think it will look anything like LIV has looked, and I think that’s a good thing.”

MORE PGA TOUR-LIV MERGER COVERAGE: Player reaction | 21 burning questions & answers | 10 shocking revelations | How the merger came to be | Brandel Chamblee sounds off | Rory, Tiger left in the dark | PGA Tour-LIV Golf timeline | Can this happen? A legal expert weighs in | Jay Monahan defends decision

Josh Berhow

Golf.com Editor

Josh Berhow is the managing editor at GOLF.com. The Minnesota native graduated with a journalism degree from Minnesota State University in Mankato. You can reach him at joshua_berhow@golf.com.