Shunning Rory McIlroy would represent epic embarrassment for PGA Tour | Ewan Murray

TThe most unsavory and unlikely scenario may well be necessary. Rory McIlroy to LIV is about rumors, knocked down, rumors and knocked down. But as the PGA Tour delays the completion of a deal with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund and even the formal involvement of McIlroy himself, one wonders whether it might take something nuclear for golf to wake up to the unhappiness of its current, broken wave. stands. Should McIlroy sign for the golf rebel tour, the establishment would be thrown into such a frenzy that the partnership between the PGA Tour, LIV and the PIF would surely happen overnight.

There is no suggestion that this will happen. Yet Greg Norman knew exactly what he was doing these past few days. “If Rory would be willing to sit down with us and have a conversation, would we like to sit down with him?” Norman said. “100%.” McIlroy isn’t actually the PGA Tour’s biggest concern. The real prospect of LIV continuing the talent drain on established tours in 2025 should be the main cause for fear. While it’s not McIlroy, it could be Viktor Hovland. If it’s not Hovland, it could be Tommy Fleetwood. The PGA Tour and its major events are significantly harmed by golf’s lack of compatibility. This will continue to be the case as the PGA Tour wanders aimlessly down one path and LIV confidently heads down another.

A conference call Monday morning will determine whether or not McIlroy will return to the PGA Tour’s policy board and become director of the newly formed PGA Tour Enterprises. This vote should have taken place on Wednesday. It is indicative of the chaos in the business community that McIlroy – not the most famous golfer, but certainly the most influential – was not immediately welcomed with open arms. It’s a bit ridiculous that the number 2 in the world and a good golfer has to sit around and audition to be accepted. The 34-year-old has connections in the business and golf worlds, which should make a role a no-brainer for him. Yasir al-Rumayyan, the governor of the PIF, will accept McIlroy’s call; a courtesy unlikely to be extended to others not named Tiger Woods.

The only assumption that can be drawn from the needless delay is that there are those who are hardly impressed by McIlroy’s return to prominence. The Northern Irishman has been open about his desire for a global game, featuring the best players from all corners of the world. If elite golf were created today, this would be exactly the model that would be followed. Yet for too long – and still – people involved with the PGA Tour have been solely obsessed with the PGA Tour. It’s an isolated position that, combined with Saudi wealth, has forced the organization to enter into a commercial partnership with a group of American sports owners to stay afloat. Even with that agreement, the medium-term outlook for the PGA Tour, with $20 million events that not nearly enough people care about, is not positive.

McIlroy wants to be a force for a greater good in the sport. Photo: Matthew Hinton/AP

As the sport loses eyeballs, players have become too much power. Golfers would never ask commercial types to line up putts for them, but seem to believe they are qualified to make business calls. This is why a group of directors didn’t immediately check a box and bring McIlroy back to the fold. Among them is Patrick Cantlay. McIlroy has already made it clear that he and world number 8 “see the world very differently”. That’s fine. In fact, it may be essential in a boardroom.

No one knows exactly what Cantlay wants because he has missed countless opportunities to express it. At Sawgrass, just before joining a trip to the Bahamas to meet Rumayyan, Cantlay was so vague in response to questions about the future of his sport that it was difficult to keep one’s eyes open while listening. A day after McIlroy’s possible return was reported, Cantlay was on the interview schedule at the Zurich Classic. By total coincidence, Cantlay’s practice schedule meant he could not appear for questioning.

Woods is intriguing in this situation. It’s only fair to believe that fellow professionals who claim the 15-time major winner is taking his managerial position seriously, despite this being a person who has had others wipe his backside since gaining global fame. Woods previously had no requirement to study spreadsheets. Despite not being a board member at the time, Woods was upset because he had no prior knowledge of the June 6 framework agreement announced between the PGA Tour and PIF. This resentment seems to have lingered. If anyone had reason to be angry, it was McIlroy; he previously made a large portion of the PGA Tour’s open bids against LIV. Instead of sulking, McIlroy wants to be a force for a greater good.

The bigger problem is that Woods’ entire legacy is wrapped up in the PGA Tour. He needs the PGA Tour, above or even at the expense of everything else, to thrive and prosper. As the shape of elite golf changes, it would only make sense for Woods to consider how his achievements might be viewed decades from now. But like Cantlay, Woods is hopelessly opaque when put behind a microphone.

There are other reasons why McIlroy is involved. If the PGA Tour wants to present itself as an upwardly mobile organization, it certainly cannot operate without a European presence in its decision-making. There is skepticism about the value of a strategic alliance between the PGA and DP World Tour; that is only reinforced by such a US-centric boardroom.

A conference call on Monday will determine the next step. To shun McIlroy would be an epic embarrassment. Whether or not the four-time Major winner returns to prominence, this should also be the trigger for others on the PGA Tour to finally show the courage of their convictions. Minus McIlroy, golf is sleepwalking.