McIlroy explains reasons for shock return to PGA Tour policy board

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McIlroy explains reasons for shock return to PGA Tour policy board

Rory McIlroy believes that unity is the “only way forward for the game of golf” as he explained the reasons and motivation behind his willingness to make a shock return to the PGA Tour policy board.

As reported on Tuesday, McIlroy will return to the PGA Tour’s policy board this week, subject to a vote approving his reappointment, just five months after stepping down from it.

Negotiations between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) over the shock Framework Agreement announced last June are understood to be stalling, with talks ongoing to unify the game.

McIlroy would replace Webb Simpson, who has reportedly offered his resignation and requested the former world No 1 takes his place.

It is expected that McIlroy’s involvement will help appease sponsors and Yasir Al-Rumayyan – chairman of the PIF – to expedite an agreement between the two parties, who are still some way apart in their visions for the sport.

In a message to Sky Sports News on Monday evening, McIlroy said: “I’d rather the men’s golf professional landscape survived this, so I’m happy to do my bit.”

On Wednesday, McIlroy faced the media for the first time since the news of his unexpected return emerged, ahead of his debut appearance in the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans team event, which is live on Sky Sports Golf from 1pm on Thursday.

Image: Rory McIlroy in practice action at TPC Louisiana ahead of this week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans

McIlroy said that while he was “not as of yet” able to confirm his return to the policy board, he agreed to speak in ‘hypotheticals’ about such a prospect – and duly elaborated on the rationale behind his expected move to rejoin.

“I think I can be helpful,” he said.

“I don’t think there’s been much progress made in the last eight months, and I was hopeful that there would be. I think I could be helpful to the process.

“But only if people want me involved, I guess. When Webb and I talked and he talked about potentially coming off the board, I said, look, if it was something that other people wanted, I would gladly take that seat, and that was the conversation that we had.

“But yeah, I think that’s the whole reason. I feel like I can be helpful. I feel like I care a lot, and I have some pretty good experience and good connections within the game and sort of around the wider sort of ecosystem and everything that’s going on.

“But at the end of the day, it’s not quite up to me to just come back on the board. There’s a process that has to be followed.

“But I’m willing to do it if that’s what people want, I guess.”

McIlroy: Everyone needs to put lingering ‘hard feelings’ aside

McIlroy joined the Player Advisory Council in 2019 and then served on the PGA Tour’s policy board from 2021 to last November, when he resigned after citing concerns over his time and energy he had to commit to the role.

The four-time major winner has since performed something of a U-turn on his position towards LIV and the players who have defected from the established tours over the past two years – admitting ahead of the new season that he had been “too judgemental”.

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A look back on how Rory McIlroy’s stance on LIV Golf appears to have changed over the course of the last two years

He has also stressed his belief that a successful conclusion to the ongoing Framework Agreement discussions was crucial for the health of golf going forward.

Asked on Wednesday if he would take a greater stance on unification in a second stint on the PGA Tour’s policy board, McIlroy replied: “Absolutely, yeah. I think it’s the only way forward for the game of golf.”

In addition to Simpson, the other current PGA Tour player directors on the policy board are Patrick Cantlay, Peter Malnati, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods.

McIlroy has previously said that he and Cantlay “see the world quite differently” and also had an exchange of views with Spieth.

Asked how he would manage different views among board members on his return, McIlroy said: “Compromise but also try to articulate your points as well as you can and try to help people see the benefits of what unification could do for the game and what it could do for this tour in particular.

“We obviously realise the game is not unified right now for a reason, and there’s still some hard feelings and things that need to be addressed, but I think at this point for the good of the game, we all need to put those feelings aside and all move forward together.”

Rory responds to PGA Tour loyalty equity payment reports

McIlroy was also asked about reports on Wednesday suggesting that he and Tiger Woods are among the golfers expected to be given equity in PGA Tour Enterprises as a thank you for sticking with the Tour.

The Telegraph stated that Woods will receive a $100m and McIlroy a $50m stake in the newly-formed enterprise for not taking lucrative offers from LIV.

Several hundred players will also receive equity in PGA Tour Enterprises, which raised a reported $3bn investment earlier this year from Strategic Sports Group, a consortium of sports team owners.

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Rory McIlroy has dismissed a report about his impending move to LIV Golf and confirms he will remain on PGA Tour in future

Asked what would be considered “enough” to make players feel vindicated for not switching to LIV, McIlroy said: “I think the one thing we’ve learned in golf over the last two years is there’s never enough.”

McIlroy has recently rubbished suggestions that he himself was considering joining LIV Golf, with the league’s chief executive Greg Norman also denying on Tuesday that they had made any offer to the world No 2.

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Rory McIlroy shows off his incredible golf knowledge by attempting to name every winner of The Masters in his lifetime

Should McIlroy be concentrating on own game?

Jamie Spence, speaking on the Sky Sports Golf Podcast:

“I don’t think he needs to go onto the policy board to have his views heard as I am sure [PGA Tour commissioner] Jay Monahan and all the other senior players seek his opinion anyway.

“I think Rory needs to get away from that and concentrate on his game. He has done enough of it. They are going to consult him anyway and he always gives his opinions. He is very forthright.”

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Nick Dougherty is in the Audi Performance Zone to work out how Rory McIlroy has improved his swing

Alex Perry, associate editor of bunkered, speaking on the Sky Sports Golf Podcast:

“Rory obviously has a very good relationship with Yasir [Al-Rumayyan], so perhaps that is to the PGA Tour’s advantage. He has a very good relationship with Tiger Woods as well. But I would rather see him concentrate on his own game.

“I appreciate it won’t get to the levels where he was the PGA Tour’s mouthpiece, the player everyone wanted to speak to while Monahan sat in the background, but he was clearly miserable in that period when LIV was emerging.

“It really affected him on and off the course. That is my biggest concern. Can he control those emotions? He cannot resist saying it like it is, he has no filter.”

Watch McIlroy in action at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins with Featured Groups on Thursday from 1pm on Sky Sports Golf, ahead of full coverage from 8.30pm.

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