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Rory McIlroy Urges PGA Tour, LIV to Start Talks: Golf 'Is Ripping Itself Apart'

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 28, 2022

ST ANDREWS, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 28: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland speaks in a press conference during a practice round prior to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the Old Course St. Andrews on September 28, 2022 in St Andrews, Scotland. (Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images)
Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images

Rory McIlroy called for a detente between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf amid their ongoing cold war.

"I don't want a fractured game," he said Wednesday, per Sports Illustrated's Bob Harig. "The game of golf is ripping itself apart, and that's no good for anyone. It's not good for the guys on the traditional system or the guys on the other side either.

"Right now, with where everything is, it's probably not the right time but we probably can't leave it too much longer. I'm all for getting around the table and sorting things out."

It was clear from the outset that LIV Golf presented a clear threat to the PGA Tour. The breakaway tour has already poached a number of marquee stars, and the trend may only intensify as it gains more legitimacy.

Golfweek's Eamon Lynch reported Tuesday that LIV was working on a deal to purchase air time on Fox Sports 1 for its events. Although Lynch noted paying Fox Sports for broadcast time "will be widely interpreted as a failure to attract serious commercial interest in what it is offering," the net effect is the same: LIV Golf will widen its reach by becoming more accessible to fans.

LIV has faced criticism because many see it as a way for Saudi Arabia to engage in sportswashing—using sports teams, leagues and events to distract from a nation's misdeeds and improve its reputation globally. The tour is owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which also purchased the Premier League's Newcastle United in 2021 and has hosted WWE events and Formula One races in the country.

The Saudi regime has been accused of numerous human rights violations, including the murder of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi, the jailing of dissidents, the bombing of Yemen and the oppression of women, girls and the LGBTQ+ community.

At some point, finding a way for the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to coexist could be the only path forward. For now, representatives from each side remain resolute.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan told reporters in August he couldn't envision a scenario right now in which the tour lifts the suspensions levied against the golfers who signed with the LIV series.

"As I've been clear throughout, every player has a choice, and I respect their choice, but they've made it," he said. "We've made ours. We're going to continue to focus on the things that we control and get stronger and stronger. I think they understand that."

LIV CEO Greg Norman struck a similar tone in an interview with The Australian (via ESPN's Mark Schlabach).

"We have no interest in sitting down with them, to be honest with you, because our product is working," he said.

The golfers themselves are forced to draw similar battle lines as a result.

McIlroy lamented this month how his relationships with some Ryder Cup teammates have suffered because of the LIV Golf/PGA Tour split.

"I wouldn’t say I’ve got much of a relationship with them at the minute," he said. "... But, like, I haven’t done anything different. They are the ones that have made that decision. So I can sit here and keep my head held high and say I haven’t done anything differently."

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