McIlroy changes tune on LIV Golf criticism

It’s funny how time can bring a little perspective.

Over the past few months, Rory McIlroy has been relentless in his criticism of LIV Golf and its CEO, Greg Norman. But now that the first two LIV Golf Invitational tournaments have been played and won, the former World No.1 seems more open to the various parties working together.

Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy (Credit: PGA Tour)

“In hindsight there were probably steps that were missed that wouldn’t have made it as messy,” McIlroy said in an on-course interview with BBC Sport.

McIlroy then pointed out the obvious, and seemingly missed by most of the world’s leading commentators on the subject, that the Saudis have long been sponsors of a large cross-section of world sport ranging from golf and tennis through to horse racing, Formula One, wrestling, soccer and even chess.

In the golfing world, both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour have previously worked with Saudi Golf and allowed players to compete in the Kingdom for many millions of dollars. The government-owned Aramco also sponsors a handful of events on the Ladies European Tour golf events dating back to 2020 and sanctioned by the LPGA Tour.

“There’s so much chat about where the money is coming from Saudi and everything else. They sponsor so many other things. They are all over sport.”

“I understand people’s reservations with things but at the same time, if these people are serious about investing billions of dollars into golf, I think ultimately that’s a good thing but it has to be done the right way,” added McIlroy said.

“I think if they were to invest, having it be invested inside the existing structures. That’s the thing I’ve tried to advocate for over the last few months.”

McIlroy has long been held up as a poster child for the PGA Tour during these turbulent times so it will be fascinating to watch the fall-out from his remarks.

His latest comments essentially turn the argument on its head and also point towards some level of underestimation by the PGA Tour of just how many golfers would defect and the quality of the tournaments that LIV Golf would be able to produce.

It seems history be damned. Some players just want the money; what a shocking concept.