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07th Jun 2023

“Money talks” – Rory McIlroy on new PGA Tour deal as details of ‘angry exchange’ emerge

Patrick McCarry

Rory McIlroy

“Yeah it was a surprise but I knew there had been discussion going on. I knew lines of communications were open.”

Rory McIlroy has addressed the media about the new deal between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund [PIF] that has created shockwaves in professional golf.

The new agreement, which will see the PGA and DP World Tours set up in a for-profit entity with PIF, has been slammed by many for being a wanton cash-grab with the very people that sought to sink both tours by coaxing players to LIV Golf.

Others are outraged that the PGA Tour would slam those involved with PIF and Saudi Arabia for their connections to the 9/11 terrorist attack, at last year’s Canadian Open, only to then go into business with them and mask it with ‘growing the game’ PR spin.

Another bone of contention is that the PGA Tour is supposed to be player-led, yet senior stars like Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods were kept out of the loop in this game-changing deal.

McIlroy spoke with the media about that ahead of a Pro-Am at the Canadian Open, while there have been reports of an angry exchange between the four-time major winner and an American golfer at a player meeting that PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan admitted ‘was heated and certainly intense’.

Rory McIlroyGrayson Murray (left) and Rory McIlroy got into it at an emergency players meeting. (Credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy on new PGA Tour alliance

“I got a text message on Monday night from Jimmy [Dunne from the PGA Tour] saying, ‘Can I call you in the morning?’ Then he told me it and I found out at the same time as everyone else,” said Rory McIlroy.

“Yeah, it was a surprise but I knew there had been discussion going on. I knew lines of communications were open.”

“I think ultimately when I try to remove myself from the situation and try to look at the bigger picture and I look 10 years down the line, I think ultimately it’s going to be good for the game of professional golf,” McIlroy added.

“It unifies it and secures its financial future. There’s mixed emotions in there as well… The PIF was going to keep spending money in golf, whether you like it or not. At least the PGA Tour controls how that money is spent…

“It’s hard for me to not sit up here and feel somewhat like a sacrificial lamb and feeling like I’ve put myself out there and this is what happens.”

McIlroy said he still had faith in PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, who will become CEO of this new PGA-DP-PIF entity if it gets voted through and approved, in Europe and the United States.

It was reported by the Golf Channel that tour player Johnson Wagner had access to an audio feed of the meeting that took place in Toronto, at the Canadian Open, with Monahan in the room. When world no.227 Grayson Murray was complaining about how the top players would comply with the new deal as they would be well paid, McIlroy is said to have remarked, “Just play better”.

That led to Murray telling McIlroy to “f**k off’. Another player present at the meeting confirmed the exchange on social media:

“They [McIlroy and Murray] were cordial and pleasant post meeting. We chatted as a group of players and we were laughing about the comment. No beef or hard feelings either way.”

“I’ve come to terms with it,” Rory McIlroy reflected, on the deal, in his press briefing.

“I’ve resigned myself to the fact that this is what’s going to happen. It’s very hard to keep up with people who have more money than anyone else.”

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