As we ring in the New Year, the golf division between the PGA Tour and LIV has reached its peak. LIV's signing of defending Masters champion John Rahm last month was the latest and biggest blow to the PGA Tour.
English has been joined by avid PGA Tour supporter Rory McIlroy as talks resume with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF). Internet, Stick to football.
McIlroy covers a variety of topics, including being hilariously duped for the autograph of his childhood hero Roy Keane.
But things took a more serious tone when LIV asked McIlroy about golf. So far, the 34-year-old Irishman has been the most outspoken critic of the Saudi tour.
That seems to have changed.
„I think what LIV has done is exposed the flaws in what golf is like … we should all be independent contractors and be able to pick and choose the tournaments we want to play. But what LIV and the Saudis have exposed is that they spend millions to sponsor these events. „You're asking for hundreds of dollars, and you can't guarantee the sponsors that the players are going to show up,” McIlroy said.
He will touch on the fact that several PGA Tour sponsors have pulled out of events in recent months. Days after Rahm signed with LIV, title sponsor Wells Fargo announced they would end their partnership with the PGA Tour after 2024.
„I can't believe the PGA Tour has done so well for so long,” McIlroy said.
On the face of it, a 4-time major champion is no mistake. Some of the best players in the world have left for LIV, weakening the overall talent on tour. Nevertheless, the PGA Tour is asking more from their sponsors to keep LIV going financially.
But what's really interesting is McIlroy's response to the question: „What's the one thing you fundamentally dislike about LIV Golf?”
McIlroy's mind was in stark contrast to the way he had been when asked to move immediately to defend the Saudi tour. He even explained why.
„I probably thought a little bit about the guys who went to LIV Golf in the beginning, and I think that was a mistake on my part, because now I realize that not everyone is in my position or Tiger Woods' position,” he said.
„I've gone through the last couple of years with this altruistic attitude, where I saw the world the way I wanted to see it… I wouldn't say I've lost the fight against LIV, but I've accepted the fact that it's part of our game now.
To some extent, his comments feel disingenuous. It's as if he's tired of being mocked for espousing the proverbial knight in shining armor for the PGA Tour.
But at the same time, his recognition that most players who join LIV don't have the same opportunities, and revenue streams, is genuine.
However, McIlroy made it clear that he still hopes the two tours will come together soon. That is despite all evidence pointing in the opposite direction. Even if the Tour and the PIF come to an agreement, the writing is on the wall; LIV Golf isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Kendall Capps is the senior editor for SB Nations Playing Through. For more golf coverage, follow us @_PlayingThrough On all major social platforms.
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