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Rory McIlroy believes LIV Golf players should face punishment despite new Saudi partnership: 'There still has to be consequences to actions'

June 07, 2023
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Streeter Lecka

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan confirmed, following Tuesday’s historic partnership between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, that LIV Golf members will have the chance to regain membership with the tour. Rory McIlroy, however, believes discipline should still be in order.

Speaking to the media Wednesday at the RBC Canadian Open, McIlroy was asked about the heated players-only meeting with Monahan on Tuesday evening, and McIlroy explained that though the future is bright, there remains hurt feelings from those who stayed loyal to the tour.

“What that looks like for individual players in terms of keeping a tour card and bringing players back into the fold and then that sacrifices other people, that's where the anger comes from. I understand that,” McIlroy said. “There still has to be consequences to actions.

“The people who left the PGA Tour irreparably harmed this tour, started litigation against it. We can't just welcome them back in. That's not going to happen. I think that was the one thing that Jay was trying to get across yesterday is like, guys, we're not just going to bring these guys back in and pretend like nothing has happened. That is not going to happen.”

Monahan stated in a memo to PGA Tour members that LIV golfers will have a pathway back to their former respective tours. Speaking with the media, Monahan said although no formal process has been set, discussions are ongoing on how those players will ultimately return.

“We're under a framework agreement. To complete this, we've got to get to definitive,” Monahan said. “We have that identified in our framework agreement. It's reapplying for membership at some point after the end of 2023, and that's something that I'll address in the future, certainly, once we get through the definitive.”

McIlroy said this new partnership should reward those who didn’t jump at the Saudi money. “I mean, the simple answer is yes,” McIlroy said. “The complex answer is how does that happen. That's all a gray area and up in the air at the moment.”

Interestingly, despite being the biggest name in the game outside of Tiger Woods, McIlroy said he never formally received an offer from LIV Golf. Given the tour’s hard stance about the nature of the money, McIlroy expects there to be fallout from the tour’s decision.

“I said it to Jay yesterday, ‘You've galvanized everyone against something, and that thing that you galvanized everyone against you've now partnered with,’ ” McIlroy said. “Of course, I understand it. It is hypocritical. It sounds hypocritical.

“The one thing I would say is, again, whether you like it or not, the PIF and the Saudis want to spend money in the game of golf. They weren't going to stop. One thing I've always thought about is, how can we get that money into the game but use it in the right way. That's what this [new deal] ultimately will do. That's my hope.”