Sunday, May 19, 2024

McIlroy compares Saudi and PGA Tour rift to NI peace process – Irish Golfer Magazine

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Rory McIlroy has reiterated his desire for a world tour and believes that professional golf should learn from the Northern Ireland peace process in order to find a compromise.

McIlroy compared the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the peace deal which brought an end to the troubles in his native Northern Ireland and the schism that currently exists in men’s professional golf as the negotiations between the PIF and PGA Tour rumble on.

“I sort of liken it to like when Northern Ireland went through the peace process in the ’90s and the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.

“Neither side was happy. Catholics weren’t happy, Protestants weren’t happy, but it brought peace and then you just sort of learn to live with whatever has been negotiated, right?

“That was in 1998 or whatever it was and 20, 25, 30 years ahead, my generation doesn’t know any different. It’s just this is what it’s always been like and we’ve never known anything but peace.

“It’s my little way of trying to think about it and make both sides see that there could be a compromise here.

“Yeah, it’s probably not going to feel great for either side, but if it’s a place where the game of golf starts to thrive again and we can all get back together, then I think that’s ultimately a really good thing.”

McIlroy has had differences of opinion with board members Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Spieth over welcoming back LIV players to the PGA Tour as well as the recent deal with the PIF even with $1.5billion in capital from the Strategic Sports Group.

“Yeah, there’s been a lot of conversations,” McIlroy said at Quail Hollow. “Sort of reminded me partly why I didn’t.

“So yeah, I think it just, it got pretty complicated and pretty messy and I think with the way it happened, I think it opened up some old wounds and scar tissue from things that have happened before.

“I think there was a subset of people on the board that were maybe uncomfortable with me coming back on for some reason.

“I think the best course of action is if, you know, there’s some people on there that aren’t comfortable with me coming back on, then I think Webb just stays on and sees out his term, and I think he’s gotten to a place where he’s comfortable with doing that and I just sort of keep doing what I’m doing.

“I put my hand up to help and it was – I wouldn’t say it was rejected, it was a complicated process to get through to put me back on there. So that’s all fine, no hard feelings and we’ll all move on.”

McIlroy still wants to see golf mould into a world tour but insists his main opposition could be from inside the PGA Tour itself.

“It could be if we go to more of a global schedule, do the American players that are used to playing all their golf in America want to travel outside of the States 12 times a year to play tournament golf, you know? That’s a consideration,” he said.

“There’s the fact that if we all sort of come back together, there’s only – I think from the LIV contingent there’s only seven players over there that have status, still have status or eligibility here.

“But would it be palatable to the rest of the membership if they come back with – after seeing out their contract and they’ve financially got ahead by potentially hundreds of millions of dollars over the people that stayed?

“That’s a consideration.

“I don’t think it’s a huge consideration because, you know, it’s – again, like if you’re just thinking big picture and what’s good for the game of golf and what’s good for the Tom Kims of the world in 10 or 15 years’ time and they’re still playing professional golf, you want to set it up in a way where those younger guys have all the same opportunities if not more than the opportunities that we had at that time.

“So this is – it’s not really about the here and now. It is a little bit, but it’s also about how does this thing look 10, 15, 20 years down the line.”

He added: “I’m still optimistic. I think Webb staying on is a really good thing. I think he’s got a really balanced voice in all of this and I think he sees the bigger picture, which is great.

“My fear was if Webb stepped off and it wasn’t me that was going in his place, what could potentially happen. Yeah, I’m really happy that Webb has made that decision to stay on and serve out the rest of his term.”

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