Rory McIlroy: World number two says ‘world tour’ is his ‘dream scenario’ for men’s golf

McIlroy speaks with Declan Rice
Image caption,McIlroy spent some time with Arsenal and England footballer Declan Rice ahead of the Dubai Invitational

Rory McIlroy says a “world tour” is his “dream scenario” amid ongoing talks aimed at ending the split that has dominated men’s golf in recent years.

Golf’s future remains uncertain with merger talks between the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund, which bankrolls LIV Golf, ongoing.

McIlroy says he would like to see a global tour with more events in Australia, South Africa and Japan.

The world number two says golf should explore “untapped commercial property”.

Speaking to Golf Digest, external in Dubai, where he begins his 2024 season at the inaugural Dubai Invitational on Thursday, McIlroy said: “Going forward, if everything is on the table, venues have to be a big part of the consideration.

“We need to make sure the courses are worthy of the players who are going to be competing.

“My dream scenario is a world tour, with the proviso that corporate America has to remain a big part of it all. Saudi Arabia, too. That’s just basic economics.

“But there is an untapped commercial opportunity out there,” he continued.

“Investors always want to make a return on their money. Revenues at the PGA Tour right now are about $2.3bn (£1.8bn).

“So how do we get that number up to four or six? To me, it is by looking outward. They need to think internationally and spread their wings a bit. I’ve been banging that drum for a while.”

McIlroy, who has won events all over the world, says he would like to see the Australian Open and South African Open being given elevated statuses due to the quality of courses and level of interest in those countries.

The 34-year-old would also like to see top players playing more regularly in places like Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan in a global tour that, to him, would resemble the current Formula 1 schedule.

“Whether they are rotated on the new global circuit, or we go with the same ones every year, I’m OK with either,” he said.

“The Australian Open, for example, should almost be the fifth major. The market down there is huge with potential. They love golf. They love sport. They have been starved of top-level golf. And the courses are so good.

“The South African Open is another I’d have in the mix. Then you have places like Singapore and Hong Kong and Japan. What a market Japan represents. That would be another opportunity.

“We could end up with something that resembles Formula One, but with a little more of an American presence.

Throw in the four majors and you have a brilliant schedule for the top 70-100 guys, whatever the number is.

“We’d have, say, a 22-event schedule. That would look pretty good to me.”

‘Getting out of all things political definitely cleared my head’

In June, the PGA and DP World Tours announced a ‘framework agreement’ to merge with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which has pledged $2bn (£1.6bn) of support to LIV.

While they failed to reach agreement by the deadline of 31 December 2023, talks are continuing with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan saying there has been “meaningful progress” in discussions.

McIlroy was originally a central figure in the PGA Tour’s response to the emergence of LIV, but he says taking a step back from the “political” side of golf has “definitely cleared my head”.

“I don’t feel like I’m caught up in it all. For the last two years, every time I’d be walking from the locker room to the range, I’d be stopped by someone with a couple of questions,” said the four-time major winner, who resigned from the PGA Tour’s policy board in November.

“I get that I made myself the go-to guy. I was on the board and knew what was going on, so I felt like I could speak to it. Now, if someone asks me, I can honestly say I don’t know what is going on.

“I can’t give the best opinion anymore. Because they aren’t based on absolute facts.”

After playing in the Dubai Invitational, McIlroy will defend his Dubai Desert Classic title next week before beginning his 2024 PGA Tour season at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on 1 February.

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