News & Tours

Players 2024: Rory McIlroy sees PGA Tour opportunity amid 'disconnect' between PIF and LIV

March 17, 2024

Kevin C. Cox

For much of LIV Golf’s existence over the past two-plus years, the upstart league and its financial backer, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, have in many eyes appeared to be one and the same. That simply is not the case, with LIV being only a slice of investment from PIF’s $600 billion in assets.

That’s a critical distinction to players such as Rory McIlroy, who on Sunday at the Players Championship, after tying for 19th, suggested that it is in the PGA Tour’s best interest to get “closer” to PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan if a potential $1 billion deal is to be accomplished.

Several players confirmed at TPC Sawgrass over the week that the PGA Tour has encouraged members of its policy board to meet with Al-Rumayyan, and that those meetings could take place as early as this coming week.

“I think it should have happened months ago, so I’m glad it’s happening,” McIlroy said of the potential meetings. “Hopefully, that progresses conversations and gets us closer to a solution.”

McIlroy, who resigned from the policy board last November and quashed talk more recently of him going to LIV, said he has spent time with Al-Rumayyan and believes that “the people who have represented him in LIV, I think have done him a disservice—so [Greg] Norman and those guys.

“I see the two entities, and I actually think there's a really big disconnect between PIF and LIV. I think you got PIF over here and LIV are sort of over here doing their own thing. So, the closer that we can get to Yasir, PIF and hopefully finalize that investment, I think that will be a really good thing.”

Fundamentally, McIlroy said, Al-Rumayyan “wants to do the right thing.”

‘Look, they're a sovereign wealth fund,” McIlroy said. “They want to park money for decades and not worry about it. They want to invest in smart and secure businesses, and the PGA Tour is definitely one of those, especially if they're looking to invest in sport in some way.”

Of course, PIF already has numerous investments in sports, including soccer and auto racing, and it was reported this past week that the Saudis have presented a $2 billion bid to merge the ATP and WTA pro tennis tours.

McIlroy cautioned that the current state of affairs, with two entities currently holding very different forms of competition and some players secured by LIV through the late 2020s, will require patience to be worked out.

“I don't know if they're going to see that all the way out, but I definitely see LIV playing in its current form for the next couple years anyway, while everything gets figured out,” he said. “I don't think this is an overnight solution. But if we can get the investment in, then at least we can start working towards a compromise where we're not going to make everyone happy, but at least make everyone understand why we're doing what we're doing.”