Rory McIlroy quashes £750m LIV rumours and commits to PGA Tour for life

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks on from the fifth tee during the second round of the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia.
After rumours linking him to LIV, Rory McIlroy said that he did not judge players who have gone to the rebel series - Getty Images/Andrew Redington

Rory McIlroy has pledged his loyalty to the PGA Tour and dismissed rumours that built at last week’s Masters about him being poised to join LIV Golf in a £750 million deal.

The world No 2 was the breakaway circuit’s most vocal opponent in its first year of existence. But since the Saudi Public Investment Fund that bankrolls LIV signed the “framework agreement” with the PGA Tour last summer, he has softened his opinion, conceding that he was wrong to “judge” players who did jump ship.

Inevitably, this climbdown led to conjecture that he could follow Ryder Cup team-mate Jon Rahm - who defected in December with a £400 million upfront payment - with even an old manager, Chubby Chandler, declaring it could well come to pass.

‌Considering that McIlroy said nine months ago “if LIV was the last place to play on earth then I’d retire”, it would be perhaps the biggest about-turn in sporting history.

‌On Monday, a newspaper report claimed that he was on the brink, forcing the phone of the Northern Irishman’s manager, Sean O’Flaherty, to blow up and at least one bookmaker to quote him at odds-on to leave this year. O’Flaherty called it “fake news” and on Tuesday, McIlroy, himself, moved to bash down the story.

“I honestly don’t know how these things get started,” McIlroy told Golf Channel. “I’ve never been offered a number from LIV. I’ve never contemplated going to LIV. I’ve made it clear over the last two years that I don’t think it’s something for me.

“It doesn’t mean that I judge people that have went and played over there. I think one of the things that I’ve realised over the past two years is people can make their own decisions for whatever they think is best for themselves. Who are we to judge them for that?

“But personally, for me, my future is here on the PGA Tour and it’s never been any different. I will play on the PGA Tour for the rest of my career.”

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts after a double bogey on the 11th hole during the second round of the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 12, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia
McIlroy had a difficult week at Augusta - Getty Images/Andrew Redington

Since resigning from the PGA Tour’s policy board late last year, McIlroy has urged the two parties to reach a settlement to reunify the game. There are fears that it could take years not months to reach that point, with the US Department of Justice waiting to analyse the details before deciding if it would approve any merger.

In the meantime, the friction has remained with the PGA Tour taking on $1.5 billion (£1.2 billion) of private US investment from Strategic Sports Group, a consortium led by Liverpool FC owners Fenway Sports Group. LIV has also highlighted it is not going away by not only luring Rahm, but another Europe Ryder Cup player in Tyrrell Hatton two months ago.

McIlroy admits that he has met with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the PIF governor and LIV chairman, but only to discuss what happens to the game in the future. He bemoaned the fact that the intrigue and recrimination continues to overshadow the golf itself. “It’s unfortunate that we have to deal with it, but this is the state our sport is in,” he said.

McIlroy was speaking at Harbour Town where he plays in this week’s RBC Heritage. He finished in a tie for 22nd at Augusta behind Scottie Scheffler, the world No 1, who is also in the limited $20 million field at the South Carolina course.

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