McIlroy: Norman, LIV Golf have done Saudi investors a ‘disservice’

McIlroy: Norman, LIV Golf have done Saudi investors a ‘disservice’

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Monday’s meeting between the PGA Tour policy board player directors and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, is a long overdue step toward a deal that would reunite golf, Rory McIlroy said Sunday at The Players Championship.

The six player directors — Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Peter Malnati and Webb Simpson — have been “strongly encouraged” to meet with Al-Rumayyan on Monday and McIlroy, who met with the PIF governor in late 2022, was eager for the players to gain a better understanding of the fund and its leader.

“Fundamentally, he wants to do the right thing,” McIlroy said. “I have spent time with Yasir and his — the people that have represented him in LIV, I think, have done him a disservice, so [LIV Golf CEO Greg] Norman and those guys.

“I actually think there's a really big disconnect between PIF and LIV. I think you got PIF over here and LIV are sort of over here doing their own thing. So the closer that we can get to Yasir, PIF and hopefully finalize that investment, I think that will be a really good thing.”

The Tour and PIF announced a framework agreement last June that allowed both sides to start negotiating a potential deal that would include the for-profit assets of the Tour, LIV Golf and the DP World Tour. Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said this week at TPC Sawgrass that the negotiations with PIF were “accelerating” and Monday’s meeting suggests the two sides are closer to a deal than some thought.

“I think [a deal] should have happened months ago, so I am glad that it's happening. Hopefully that progresses conversations and gets us closer to a solution,” McIlroy said.

Among the questions that will likely be covered in that meeting is how team golf might be worked into the current Tour landscape.

“They're big on team golf and they want to see team golf survive in some way in the calendar. I don't think it has to necessarily look like LIV,” said McIlroy, who struggled on Sunday to an even-par 72 at TPC Sawgrass and was tied for 19th when he completed his final round. “In my mind you should leave the individual golf the individual golf and then you play your team golf on the sort of periphery of that.”

McIlroy cautioned that the players and the public should be patient and expects LIV Golf to continue into the foreseeable future, but he’s confident a deal will eventually be completed and “everyone [will] understand why we're doing what we're doing.”

Scott told reporters on Friday he was looking forward to putting “a face to a name” at Monday’s meeting and Malnati said he wanted to learn “what involvement [the PIF] want [in golf].”

“They're a sovereign wealth fund,” said McIlroy, when asked why Al-Rumayyan wanted to be involved in golf. “They want to park money for decades and not worry about it. They want to invest in smart and secure businesses, and the PGA Tour is definitely one of those especially if they're looking to invest in sport in some way.”