Rory McIlroy says landmark Tour merger 'good for the game'

Long-running stand-off between PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf came to a sudden end on Tuesday

Rory McIlroy speaks to the media at the Canadian Open. USA TODAY Sports
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Rory McIlroy on Wednesday was in a conciliatory mood on Wednesday following the stunning merger of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour with the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf. However, he insisted that those who broke away at the beginning should not be granted an automatic return.

McIlroy was one of the staunchest critics of LIV Golf since the tour launched late in 2021. But the Northern Irishman said the deal that was announced on Tuesday will secure the financial future of the sport.

"I think ultimately, when I try to remove myself from the situation and I look at the bigger picture and I look at 10 years down the line, I think ultimately this is going to be good for the game of professional golf," McIlroy said, ahead of the Canadian Open in Toronto.

"It unifies it and it secures its financial future."

The landmark announcement on Tuesday brought to an end a two-year long dispute between the PGA Tour, Europe's DP World Tour and the Saudi-backed series.

After dropping all legal proceedings emanating from numerous lawsuits, the three organisations said in a joint news release they will work together to allow a process for LIV Golf players to reapply for membership on the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.

According to the new deal, Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund PIF will make capital investment into the combined entity.

While McIlroy and Tiger Woods remained loyal to the PGA Tour and refused mega contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars, LIV Golf was successful in securing a number of big-name players, including star Phil Mickelson, former world No 1 Dustin Johnson, reigning PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka and Australian Cameron Smith.

That led to bad blood between many of the top players and two years of stand-off at all levels of the sport.

McIlroy said that even though a new deal is in place, there should not be an easy way back for the players who walked away from the established Tours.

"There still has to be consequences to actions," McIlroy said.

"The people that left the PGA Tour irreparably harmed this tour, started litigation against it. Like, we can't just welcome them back in. That's not going to happen."

McIlroy said he still had confidence in PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, who reportedly faced calls to resign from several players.

"I've dealt with Jay a lot closer than a lot of those guys have and from where we were a couple of weeks ago to where we are today, I think the future of the PGA Tour looks brighter as a whole," McIlroy said.

"What that looks like for individual players in keeping a Tour card, bringing players back into the fold and then that (means) sacrifices for other people, that's where the anger comes from.

"I understand that and there still has to be consequences to actions. The people that left the PGA Tour irreparably harmed this Tour, started litigation against it."

Updated: June 07, 2023, 3:49 PM