McIlroy won't return to PGA Policy Board, Simpson to stay

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland says he will not return to the PGA Tour Policy Board, with Webb Simpson instead staying on the decision-making panel (Andrew Redington)
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland says he will not return to the PGA Tour Policy Board, with Webb Simpson instead staying on the decision-making panel (Andrew Redington)

Rory McIlroy will not be returning to the PGA Tour Policy Board, the four-time major winner said on Wednesday, with Webb Simpson staying on the decision-making panel.

Speaking on the eve of the PGA Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina, McIlroy said some other board members had concerns about his return after stepping down from the board last year.

"There's been a lot of conversations. Sort of reminded me partly why I didn't (stay)," McIlroy said. "It got pretty complicated and pretty messy and I think with the way it happened, it opened up some old wounds and scar tissue from things that have happened before.

"There was a subset of people on the board that were maybe uncomfortable with me coming back on for some reason.

"I think the best course of action is ... Webb just stays on and sees out his term, and I think he has gotten to a place where he's comfortable with doing that and I just sort of keep doing what I'm doing."

The board includes players Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay and Peter Malnati. Cantlay and Spieth have had past disputes with McIlroy over golf's future direction.

McIlroy had been expected to return after 2012 US Open winner Simpson said he was stepping down to spend more time with his family.

Instead, according to McIlroy, Simpson will complete his term, which expires in 2025.

"I put my hand up to help and it was -- I wouldn't say it was rejected," McIlroy said. "It was a complicated process to get through to put me back on there. So that's all fine, no hard feelings and we'll all move on."

The board remains in talks about finalizing a merger deal between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) -- backers of the rival LIV Golf League -- from a framework agreement announced last June.

"I'm still optimistic," McIlroy said. "I think Webb staying on is a really good thing. He has got a really balanced voice in all of this and I think he sees the bigger picture, which is great. My fear was if Webb stepped off and it wasn't me that was going in his place, what could potentially happen."

Talks with an original December deadline have dragged months beyond, the frustrations of slow to no progress having been among the factors that sparked McIlroy's exit.

"I'm impatient because I think we've got this window of opportunity to get it done, because both sides from a business perspective I wouldn't say need to get it done, but it makes sense," McIlroy said.

McIlroy compared the situation to the Good Friday Agreement that ended unrest in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

"Catholics weren't happy, Protestants weren't happy, but it brought peace and then you just sort of learn to live with whatever has been negotiated," McIlroy said.

"That's my little way of trying to think about it and trying to make both sides see that there could be a compromise here. Yeah, it's probably not going to feel great for either side, but if it's a place where the game of golf starts to thrive again and we can all get back together, then I think that's ultimately a really good thing."

- Years down the line -

McIlroy cited restoring PGA status for players who jumped for rich LIV deals and a potential global schedule as issues that will require compromise.

"If we go to more of a global schedule, do the American players that are used to playing all their golf in America want to travel outside of the States 12 times a year to play tournament golf? That's a consideration," McIlroy said.

"Would it be palatable to the rest of the (PGA) membership if (defectors to LIV) come back after seeing out their contract and they've financially got ahead by potentially hundreds of millions of dollars over the people that stayed? That's a consideration.

"It's not really about the here and now. It is a little bit, but it's also about how does this thing look 10, 15, 20 years down the line."