He’s the most vocal golf critic on the breakaway LIV tour, but there are tentative signs that Rory McIlroy could soften his perspective.
While there’s not much of a suggestion that the Northern Irishman is about to leave the PGA Tour for Saudi millions, McIlroy has said he wants the parties to discuss and work together.
And while the 33-year-old believes the atmosphere is too delicate to have those discussions right away, he suggested they should happen sooner rather than later.
“I’ve always said there’s a time and place where everyone involved has to sit down and work together,” McIlroy said. “It’s very difficult to do that now with lawsuits pending.
“There’s a natural timeline to let things settle down a bit. People can go into those meetings with a cooler head.
“I don’t want a broken game. The game of golf is tearing itself apart and that’s not good for anyone. It’s not good for the guys from the traditional system or the guys on the other side.
“Right now, with where everything is, it probably isn’t the right time, but we probably can’t let it go for too long. I’m all for sitting around the table and sorting things out.’
Rory McIlroy has called for talks between the PGA Tour and LIV about the future of golf
McIlory is one of LIV’s most passionate golf critics in a difficult year for the sport
But the 33-year-old has now said talks should be held sooner rather than later
McIlroy also said that LIV players must get ranking points for the events they play in, as well as be eligible to compete in majors.
“If Dustin Johnson is somehow 100th in the world, that’s not an accurate reflection of where he stands in the game,” McIlroy said. ‘But at the same time you can’t make up your own rules.
‘There are criteria there, everyone knows what they are and if they want to run to meet the criteria, they can. I have no problem with them getting ranking points, but you have to meet the criteria. If you don’t, it’s harder to justify why you should have them.’
An important argument at this point about ranking points is that LIV tournaments are three rounds, while PGA Tour and DP World Tour events are four.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said last month he had no intention of talking to LIV, citing the court battles McIlroy also alluded to.
“When it comes to any of the scenarios for LIV players, and when I come back, I’ll remind you that we’re in a lawsuit,” Monahan said. ‘They suit us. I don’t think there’s any point in talking about hypothetical things right now.’
Earlier this week, it emerged that Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter, two of the bigger names to switch to LIV, stepped out of the lawsuit and dropped their names as plaintiffs.
Phil Mickelson and Greg Norman are two central figures in the rise of LIV Golf
Tiger Woods rejected an offer of about $700 million to $800 million to join LIV, Norman said
But McIlroy’s words still mark a change in tone. In late August, McIlroy said he “hates” LIV and the fact that LIV players could compete in the PGA Championship in Wentworth, which was held in September.
“If you believe in something, I think you should speak up, and I believe in that very strongly. Really,’ said McIlroy.
“I hate what it does to the game of golf. I hate it. I really. Like it’s going to be hard for me to get to Wentworth in a few weeks and see 18 of them there. That just doesn’t suit me.
“So yeah, I feel strong. I believe what I’m saying are the right things, and I think if you believe what you’re saying are the right things, you’ll be happy to stick your neck out on the leash.”
In addition, Tiger Woods, a friend of McIlroy, turned down an offer of between $700 and $800 million to join LIV, as confirmed by LIV Commissioner Greg Norman.
Bryson DeChambeau, one of the most prominent players to move to LIV, told Tucker Carlson in August that he “personally knows” that a solution will be found between LIV and the rest of the golf world.
“I think it will be sorted out,” he said. “Personally, I know it will be sorted out, whether it’s legal or they come to the table to work out the terms.
“I’m sure it will wash itself out in the future, pretty soon.”