Rory McIlroy says LIV Golf should become like cricket’s Indian Premier League

Rory McIlroy
Image caption,McIlroy was one of the strongest opponents when LIV was first announced but has since admitted it has brought some benefits

Rory McIlroy says he would be open to play in a tournament backed by LIV Golf if the controversial tour became more like cricket’s Indian Premier League.

McIlory has been a staunch opponent of LIV which has recruited high-profile players and fractured golf.

Merger talks between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which funds LIV, will continue in 2024 in an attempt to end the split.

“I would love LIV to turn into the IPL of golf,” said the world number two.

“They take two months of calendar. You go and do this team stuff and a bit different and is a different format.

“If they were to do something like that I would say ‘yeah that sounds like fun’ because you are working within the ecosystem.”

The IPL began in 2008 and has grown to be cricket’s most high-profile and lucrative franchise T20 league with players paid large sums to play in the competition which is largely given a free window in the sport’s calendar.

One of the biggest differences between LIV and the established tours is LIV’s circuit being based around team events with its 48 players split into 12 teams.

Four-time major-winner McIlroy has previously said he would retire “if LIV Golf was the last place to play golf on earth”.

Court documents revealed last year that McIlroy and American Tiger Woods could have been offered ownership of LIV team franchises as part of the proposed peace deal between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and PIF.

Speaking on the Stick to Football Podcast, external the Northern Irishman said he had “accepted” LIV is “part of our sport now”.

But he said the large sums given to recruited players – Spaniard Jon Rahm is reportedly set to earn upwards of £450m ($566.4m) for joining LIV – could be better spent if LIV wanted to be true to its stated aims of growing the sport.

“The thing I have come to realise is if you have got people, or a sovereign wealth fund, wanting to spend money in your sport that is ultimately a good thing,” McIlroy said.

“But you just want to get them to spend it the right way and spend it on things that are important in the game.

“Instead of giving someone $100m why don’t you put $50m into grassroots programmes for the R&A or USGA. Spending that money to actually grow the game and not just buy talent would be a way better way.”

McIlroy said he regrets being “too judgemental” of players who joined LIV when the circuit was first introduced in 2022

“I was maybe a little judgemental of the guys who went to LIV Golf at the start, and I think it was a bit of a mistake on my part because I now realise that not everyone is in my position or Tiger Woods’ position.

“We all turn professional to make a living. I can’t judge people for making that decision so, if I regret anything, it was probably being too judgmental at the start.”

He was more measured in his analysis of Ryder Cup team-mate Rahm’s move.

“Jon is smart and sees things coming together [a merger] at some point,” McIlroy said.

“He said ‘OK, I will take a lot of upfront money – which is his prerogative – and if things come together I will play LIV for a year, come back on the tour and play team golf on the fringes’.

“It is a smart business move.”

McIlroy added: “I hope everyone comes back together.

“You have got guys on both sides that don’t want it to happen. The LIV guys don’t want to come back to play on the PGA Tour because they don’t think they have been treated very well.

“Some of the PGA Tour guys don’t want to see those other guys.

“People need to put their egos and feelings aside and come back together and we all move forward because that would be a good thing for golf.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *