PGA Tour and LIV deal: What on earth is going on?

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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It’s ten months since a framework agreement was announced between the DP World Tour, PGA Tour and PIF. But men’s professional golf is no closer to sorting itself out.

So, what the hell is going on?

A lot has been said between Rory McIlroy, Greg Norman, Tiger Woods and now new DP World Tour chief, Guy Kinnings to suggest, any negotiations are far from over.

Tiger Woods addressed the issue in his final Masters media opportunity: “I don’t know if we’re closer [to a deal], but certainly we’re headed in the right direction,” he said. “That was a very positive meeting, and I think both sides came away from the meeting feeling positive.”

Classic Tiger, stock answers without giving a true insight.

McIlroy has caused a stir and he looks like he might be about to regain his place as front and centre in this saga.

Having resigned his position on the PGA Tour policy board at the end of 2023, the Holywood man looks set to rejoin the board and he believes that “I think I can be helpful.”

Even when McIlroy moves back onto the board it will be with a different outlook on things. Once the spokesperson for the PGA Tour in the face of LIV, McIlroy has began calling for unification and Saudi investment into the PGA Tour.

The four-time major winner was offered the position from the departing Webb Simpson but will have to be voted onto the board in the meantime.

“I think I can be helpful. I don’t think there’s been much progress made in the last eight months, and I was hopeful that there would be. I think I could be helpful to the process,” he said. “I care a lot, and I have some pretty good experience and good connections within the game and sort of around the wider sort of ecosystem and everything that’s going on.”

McIlroy’s position is interesting. He is a DP World Tour and PGA Tour stalwart but with plenty of friends and Ryder Cup teammates who have moved to LIV Golf.

He’s friends and business partners with the Fenway Sports Group, who are central to the Strategic Sports Group (SSG) that recently made a massive investment in the PGA Tour while his relationship with PIF boss Yasir Al-Rumayyan appears to be a good one.

McIlroy sees unification as the only way forward for golf.

“We obviously realize the game is not unified right now for a reason, and there’s still some hard feelings and things that need to be addressed, but I think at this point for the good of the game, we all need to put those feelings aside and all move forward together.”

Jon Rahm spoke ahead of LIV Golf Adelaide stating that he would love to be allowed back onto the PGA Tour in the future to compete in some events along with his 14-event LIV Golf schedule.

LIV Golf CEO, Norman was asked if he could shed a light on where negotiations are at currently.

“I would love to give you insight, but I don’t have any. We at LIV are totally separate from that part of the negotiation. We at LIV are a standalone company being invested in by the same investor [PIF] interested in the game of golf. Our investor wanted to invest in LIV because he loved the opportunity of the franchise model, what he could do with it, and how we could build it out on a global platform.”

New DP World Tour boss, Kinnings, also admitted that while a framework agreement was announced ten months ago, a meeting between PIF, the DP World Tour and the PGA Tour has yet to happen.

“It has to be better for the professional game to find a single product and he is a very smart guy. He will know that,” Kinnings said.

“Everyone is going to have to give a bit to get to where you need to. The more you read headlines about viewership figures going down, people realise if they don’t move quickly there will be lasting damage.

“And I don’t think Yasir wants damage to the game, he clearly likes the game.”

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