McIlroy to LIV rumours nothing more than ‘fake news’ according to his manager

Mark McGowan

Rory McIlroy acknowledges the crowd after finishing on 18 (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Rory McIlroy’s manager Sean O’Flaherty has moved to dismiss rumours that the world number two was on the verge of joining LIV Golf.

London-based City A.M., first reported that McIlroy was close to signing an $850 million deal that would be one of the biggest U-turns in sporting history.

City A.M. claimed that two separate sources with insider knowledge believe that a deal is imminent and that it would be announced after The Masters, but the paper also acknowledged that they had been unable to verify the claims and O’Flaherty has since poured cold water on the speculation, labelling it “Fake news. Zero Truth,” to the Irish Independent.

Additionally, a confidential source told Irish Golfer that McIlroy himself had unequivocally denied the rumours which were circulating among media members at last week’s Masters tournament.

Since LIV’s arrival back in 2022, McIlroy has been the most vocal opponent of the new tour and a vehement defender of the PGA Tour and, to a lesser extent, the DP World Tour, but in the wake of the June 06 announcement that the PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund – the financial backers of LIV – had agreed to bury the hatchet and work towards an agreement, McIlroy’s position has softened and he’s become one of the stronger advocates for bringing the PIF into the fold of the newly created PGA Tour Enterprises which brought in investment from the Strategic Sports Group.

The City A.M. report came on the back of claims by McIlroy’s former manager, Chubby Chandler two months back that he thought a McIlroy move might be imminent.

“If you were being cynical, you might say he’s going to sign for about £750m in a month’s time with LIV because he’s paving the way that LIV’s okay now, whereas it wasn’t,” Chandler told Bunkered in February. “He doesn’t need £750m but it’s odd what he’s done and I’m sure it’s a possibility. If he does it or not, I don’t know, but if [Jon] Rahm can do it, most guys can do it.”

McIlroy was asked to respond to Chandler’s comments shortly afterwards, and though he didn’t deny them outright, he appeared to be poking fun when responding: “You never know, he might know a few things, who knows?”

But just over a month ago, shortly after making the wry comments regarding Chandler’s claims, he reiterated that he had no intention of joining LIV.

“It’s not for me,” McIlroy said ahead of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. “I’m too much of a traditionalist. I love winning golf tournaments and looking at the trophy and seeing that Sam Snead won this trophy or Ben Hogan or Gene Sarazen or Jack Nicklaus or Gary Player, Tiger Woods, Nick (Faldo), whoever it is. The people that came before me.

“That, to me, is a big deal in our game.

“If we were to all put our heads together and be like, okay, what can we do to all come back together and move forward and be a little more cohesive?’

“Then I would sort of be for that.”

During the Masters last week, among the spectators watching McIlroy, playing alongside Scottie Scheffler and Xander Schauffele, was LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, a man with whom McIlroy has been involved in back-and-forth squabbling since LIV’s arrival although McIlroy admitted that he hadn’t seen Norman.

Though all of his recent soundbites have continued to be critical of LIV as a tour and as a concept, his position had softened on those who have accepted offers to make the move for big financial gain.

“I was maybe a little judgmental of the guys who went at the start,” he said in January.

“I think it was a bit of a mistake on my part because I now realise that not everyone is in my position or in Tiger’s position.

“You get this offer, and what do you do? We all turn professional to make a living playing the sports that we do.

“I think that’s what I realised over the last two years. I can’t judge people for making that decision, so if I regret anything, it was probably being too judgmental at the start.”

McIlroy remains in the field to contest this week’s RBC Heritage PGA Tour Signature Event at Hilton Head, and is due to partner Shane Lowry at the Zurich Classic in New Orleans the following week.

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