clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rory McIlroy’s patience wears thin on PGA Tour beef with LIV Golf ahead of PGA Championship

The former world No. 1 has been one of the primary faces standing up for the PGA Tour previously, but those days appear to be in the past.

2023 PGA Championship, Rory McIlroy, LIV Golf, PGA Tour
ROCHESTER, NY - Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland speaks to the media during a press conference prior to the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club on May 16, 2023 in Rochester, New York.
Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Over the past year, Rory McIlroy has emerged as the face of the PGA Tour in its budding rivalry with the Saudi-backed LIV Tour.

Throughout the 2022 calendar year, McIlroy vehemently defended the PGA while castigating LIV.

But something has changed in 2023.

During his session with the media on the Tuesday of PGA Championship week, McIlroy did not offer any insight into the future of professional golf.

Alan Shipnuck, a veteran golf journalist who has covered the PGA-LIV dynamic in depth, asked McIlroy the following question: “We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of the first LIV Golf tournament. If you could look into your crystal ball three years from now, where do you think the professional game will be?”

The McIlroy of old would have given a long, thorough answer in response to this question. Instead, the Northern Irishman fired back, short and simple:

“I don’t have a crystal ball.”

“You don’t want to speculate?” Shipnuck quickly responded.

“No,” McIlroy remarked, promptly ending any conversation about the rival tour.

Undoubtedly, the four-time major champion has a point. Nobody can predict what men’s professional golf will look like three years from now.

Yet, in November 2022, McIlroy said publicly that Greg Norman, the CEO of LIV Golf, needed to exit stage left.

Moreover, at the Tour Championship last August, McIlroy noted that LIV “ripped apart” the professional game.

TOUR Championship - Final Round
ATLANTA, GA - The crowd watches as Rory McIlroy and Scottie Scheffler walk up the 18th fairway during the final round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on August 28, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo by Rankin White/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

On top of these comments, McIlroy has worked behind the scenes with both Tiger Woods and PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan to re-shape how the PGA Tour operates.

Indeed, this golf triumvirate accomplished that feat last August after a private players-only meeting took place in Delaware.

Consequently, the PGA Tour established “elevated events,” with reduced fields, larger purses, and no 36-hole cuts—which echoes similar sentiments to the LIV model.

Nonetheless, perhaps McIlroy is drained from this heavy load, in addition to playing golf against the world’s best players.

He also skipped the RBC Heritage in Harbour Town, a newly designated event, the week after Augusta. McIlroy needed a break. The PGA Tour docked him $3 million for doing so.

McIlroy returned to action at the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks later, where he tied for 47th.

As for this week, McIlroy, the 2012 and 2014 PGA Champion, is squarely focused on his golf.

“I think the best way to deal with that is not let yourself get to that level of expectation so early,” he said to the media Tuesday. “[I have to] take what the golf course gives me and hit good golf shots and... just try to have a little bit more acceptance. Now that I think back to Augusta and maybe the last few months as well, the level of acceptance hasn’t been where it needs to be. And if I work on that and I do the right things, I know I’ll start to play some really good golf again.”