Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

Rory less confident PGA Tour, LIV near merger

By admin May17,2024

  • Mark Schlabach, ESPN Senior WriterMay 15, 2024, 01:54 PM ET

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    • Senior college football writer
    • Author of seven books on college football
    • Graduate of the University of Georgia

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Rory McIlroy called Jimmy Dunne’s departure from the PGA Tour’s policy board a “huge loss,” and the four-time major champion said his confidence in the tour getting a deal done with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to reunite men’s professional golf is as low as ever.

Dunne, one of the architects of the framework agreement the PGA Tour signed with the PIF on June 6, resigned from the board Monday. In his resignation letter, the Wall Street dealmaker said his vote and role had become “superfluous” because player directors outnumbered independent directors on the board.

Tiger Woods was added as a sixth player director to the board in August. There were five independent directors, including Dunne.

“Yeah, honestly I think it’s a huge loss for the PGA Tour, if they are trying to get this deal done with the PIF and trying to unify the game,” McIlroy said Wednesday at Valhalla Golf Club, the site of this week’s PGA Championship.

“Jimmy was basically the relationship, the sort of conduit between the PGA Tour and PIF. It’s been really unfortunate that he has not been involved for the last few months, and I think part of the reason that everything is stalling at the minute is because of that.”

In Dunne’s resignation letter, he wrote that “no meaningful progress has been made towards a transaction with PIF.” Dunne said he hadn’t been involved in talks with PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan and others since June.

The PIF is financing the rival LIV Golf League.

“It’s really, really disappointing, and you know, I think the tour is in a worse place because of it,” McIlroy said. “We’ll see. We’ll see where it goes from here, and we’ll see what happens. But you know, I would say my confidence level on something getting done before last week was, you know, as low as it had been. And then with this news of Jimmy resigning and knowing the relationship he has with the other side, and how much warmth there is from the other side, it’s concerning.”

Last week, McIlroy was named to a newly formed transactional committee that will handle negotiations with the Saudis. McIlroy had hoped to return to the policy board — player director Webb Simpson had offered to step down to allow him back on — but other directors were “uncomfortable” with bringing him back.

Woods, who is also on the transaction committee, said the tour had made some progress in negotiations with the PIF.

“It’s ongoing, it’s fluid,” Woods said. “It changes day to day. Has there been progress? Yes, but it’s an ongoing negotiation, so a lot of work ahead for all of us with this process. And so, we’re making steps, and it may not be giant steps, but we’re making steps.”

McIlroy, the No. 2-ranked golfer in the world, didn’t address his pending divorce from his wife of seven years, the former Erica Stoll, during a 12-minute news conference. McIlroy filed for divorce Monday, according to court documents in family court in Palm Beach County, Florida.

McIlroy’s attorneys wrote that the marriage is irretrievably broken. They asked for shared parental custody of their daughter and for a judge to enforce a prenuptial agreement the couple signed March 7, 2017.

When McIlroy was asked how he was doing on Wednesday, he replied, “I’m ready to play this week.”

McIlroy, 35, will try to end a nearly 10-year drought in major championships. He won his fourth one at the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club — and has gone 0-for-35 since.

McIlroy has won in each of his past two starts, finishing first with good friend Shane Lowry at the Zurich Classic team event in New Orleans on April 28, then capturing the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club with a 5-stroke victory Sunday.

“Sometimes I struggle to remember what I did yesterday,” McIlroy said. “I think if I look that far back, I mean, it’s hard to rekindle those feelings and those memories. I can vaguely remember, you know, coming here off the back of winning The Open and the old [World Golf Championship-Bridgestone Invitational].

“But you know, I think it’s all about confidence and momentum, and I have a lot of confidence and quite a bit of momentum coming into this week. So as I said at the start, it’s just about trying to keep that going.”

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