Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth are seemingly back on the same page following the American’s pre-AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am comments concerning the status of the potential deal between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund which seemed at odds with the position McIlroy has taken.
After more than two years of headlines for all the wrong reasons in the men’s professional game, the last thing you would expect is that PGA Tour allies McIlroy and Spieth would need to have a ‘frank discussion’ to stave off a potential rift between the man who recently resigned from the PGA Tour Policy Board and the man chosen to replace him.
Looking back at the official transcript of Spieth’s pre-AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am press conference he was asked the following:
Q. Couple things, Jordan. How important is it for PIF to be involved in this whole investment?
JORDAN SPIETH: Well, they aren’t involved in this investment.
Q. I thought the Tour was still negotiating —
JORDAN SPIETH: What’s that?
Q. The Tour, they said they’re still negotiating with PIF.
JORDAN SPIETH: Sure, but this specific investment announced they aren’t a part of while we still — yeah, while the Tour and SSG are both still in conversations about how they could going forward.
Q. How important is it for them to be involved, to be part of it?
JORDAN SPIETH: I think it just depends. I think — I think from where I sit, which is hopefully representing our entire membership, it matters how they feel about the entire situation. And then, you know, at this point if the PIF were interested in coming in on terms that our members like and/or the economic terms are at or not beyond SSGs and they feel it would be a good idea, I think that’s where the discussions will start.
But it’s going to be — you know, I think the idea is that — I understand it could take some time to even come to those kinds of terms, and then beyond that the Department of Justice and a regulatory review would be intact. It would be a timely situation, but I’m not sure of the level necessarily of the importance because it will be up to our members to figure that out.
Q. Secondly, Rory made a comment yesterday that he doesn’t think anyone at LIV wanting to come back should be punished and I just wanted to see if you had an opinion on that.
JORDAN SPIETH: I think that — I’ve asked a lot of players, I’ve done a lot of talking with a lot of players in the last couple months. That is — I saw that, too.
That’s Rory’s viewpoint. I could name some guys with the same viewpoint, I could name some guys with a totally
opposite viewpoint. So it’s certainly mixed on how players feel about that, that’s what I think”.
The hour-long conversation between Spieth and McIlroy was initiated by Spieth who wanted to know if all was well after McIlroy opted to remove himself from a ‘top player group text’, but as reported by good friend Alex Miceli in Sports Illustrated, McIlroy said: “I just want to remove myself from the fray a little bit. I talked to him about his comments. And we had a pretty frank discussion.”
Spieth was put into damage-control mode after his press conference comments, later clarifying that he wasn’t opposed to a PIF deal, but he wanted the terms to make sense for everyone.
In contrast, McIlroy though having removed himself from the policy board and from a position of direct influence, told Alex that not accepting PIF money was not an option, and that he was mainly concerned that Spieth’s comments would upset those of the PIF side.
“My thing was if I’m the original [potential] investor that thought that they were going to get this deal done back in July, and I’m hearing a board member say that, you know, we don’t really need them, now, how are they going to think about that, what are they gonna feel about that?” McIlroy said.
“They are still sitting out there with hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, that they’re gonna pour it into sport. And I know what Jordan was saying, I absolutely know what he was saying and what he was trying to say.
“But if I were PIF and I was hearing that coming from here, the day after doing this SSG deal, it wouldn’t have made me too happy, I guess?”