Rory McIlroy called on the warring factions of golfers to “sit down at the table and think of something” because he believes “the game is falling apart.”
As one of the loudest opponents of the LIV Golf series., McIlroy’s challenge here at Home of Golf goes a long way. The Northern Irishman has previously hinted that PGA and DP World Tours should be in talks with the Saudi-funded circuit, but he hasn’t gone that far before.
“I don’t want a broken game. I never had,” he said. “You look at some other sports and what has happened and the game of golf is being torn apart right now and no one needs it. It’s not good for the guys on this side or some traditional system, and it’s not good for the guys on the other side either.
“Nobody needs this. There is a time and a place for this. I just think that now, when everything is there, is probably not the right time. But having said that, I don’t think we can let this go on for too long. So I am for everyone who sits at the table and tries to come up with something for sure.
McIlroy’s statement came a few weeks after Phil Mickelson, one of the LIV’s highest paid rebels, made a similar statement.. Alfred Dunhill, sponsor of this Links Championship, who has invested more than $100 million in a nearly 40-year partnership with the DP World Tour, told Telegraph Sport on Tuesday that there should be “a cessation of hostilities that threaten the future of the game we all love” and that “people need to talk to each other to find a solution.”
However, the prospects for peace talks seem more distant than ever since Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund announced last year its intention to set up a $2 billion war chest scheme. Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA Tour, has consistently refused to negotiate, and recently Greg Norman, LIV’s chief executive, said he was no longer “interested” in a sit-down.
Meanwhile, Keith Pelley, chief executive of DP World Tour, is adamant that he will only deal with LIV if he is willing to act as a sponsor “within the sports ecosystem” rather than exist as a separate company. And as McIlroy admits, the upcoming court cases don’t make that likely either. In February, there will be a hearing on sanctions in Europe against LIV players, and in America should begin at the end of next year.
“It’s very difficult to do right now with two lawsuits going on,” McIlroy said. “That’s what makes it difficult. And I also think there’s a natural timeline here to allow the temperatures to calm down a bit, and people can perhaps go into these mediations with more cool heads and not be as emotional about it all.”
McIlroy returned to the old field two months after Cam Smith, an Australian who has since joined the LIV, turned him down for a fifth specialty. In Wednesday’s practice round, McIlroy finished 18th with a 20-foot ball and joked, “I wish I could do that in July.” It also got a favorable rebound on the 14th. “I said the same thing then,” he said.
However, McIlroy has not returned to exorcise demons, but because he wants to partner with his father, Jerry, in this four-day professional competition. “I would rather win the team event with my father here than in the individual event,” he said. “It doesn’t make up for the Open, but it does soften the blow. To be honest, I have so many good memories of the Old Field that my opinion of this place will never be spoiled.
“I got my tourist card for this event here 15 years ago. [when finishing third] and I will always be deeply grateful to St. Andrews and what he means to our game. This is more important than my attempts to win the open championship here.”
LIV World Ranking App Likely to Fan the Flames Even More
There’s also a storm brewing as LIV applies to become the official world rankings. Norman demanded that Monahan and Pelley, who are on the World Rankings Commission, withdraw from the vote on the recognition of LIV and LIV golfers last week wrote an open letter to Rankings Commission Chairman Peter Dawson, calling for a “positive” and “fast ” permission.
However, this process takes at least a year, meaning that without access to ranking points on the PGA Tour, which banned them all, their ranking would drop.
“Of course I would like the best players in the world to be judged accordingly. I think if Dustin Johnson is somewhere in the 100th place in the world, then that is not an accurate reflection of where he is in the game.
“But at the same time, you can’t make up your own rules. If they want to change to meet the criteria, they can… I certainly have no problem getting them world ranking points. But if you don’t meet the criteria, it will be difficult for you to justify why you should have them.”
The LIV doesn’t really meet most of the qualifying criteria, including 72-hole tournaments, an average of 75 players per tournament during the season, a 36-hole cut, and an open Q school held at the start of each season. LIV alleges that Tours also violate these rules. Rumor has it that, as McIlroy noted, the LIV may try to change its format to convince Dawson’s board.