Rory McIlroy Exhibits Optimism After New PGA Committee’s First Meeting With Saudi PIF

McIlroy displayed a different disposition from recent weeks after he, Tiger Woods and others met with LIV’s funders as part of a newly created transaction committee.
McIlroy is playing in this weekend’s Memorial Tournament, but he found time to participate in Friday’s meeting.
McIlroy is playing in this weekend’s Memorial Tournament, but he found time to participate in Friday’s meeting. / Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

DUBLIN, Ohio – Rory McIlroy struck an upbeat tone in describing the first in-person meeting between a PGA Tour transaction committee and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, which backs LIV Golf.

The committee, including Tiger Woods, met with the PIF and governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan on Friday evening in New York. McIlroy joined via video conference from the Memorial Tournament, where he is competing this weekend.

“Very productive, very constructive, very collaborative,’’ McIlroy said after the third round at Muirfield Village Golf Club. “I think those are probably three words I would use to describe it. Yeah, it was really good. Definitely things are heading in the right direction. A lot of progress was made. I can't really say much more than that, but it was really positive.’’

McIlroy, who shot 73 and is tied for 11th in the tournament led by Scottie Scheffler through three rounds, was pessimistic about the state of negotiations just a few weeks ago at the PGA Championship in the aftermath of PGA Tour Policy Board  member Jimmy Dunne’s resignation.

Dunne, who resigned on May 13, had been part of the negotiations more than a year ago that led to the initial “framework agreement’’ that was announced June 6, 2023. Dunne was the first one to reach out to Al-Rumayyan in an attempt to bring peace to the men’s professional game.

Woods, McIlroy and Adam Scott were named last month to a “transaction committee’’ that is to deal directly with the PIF as part of a plan to get investment in the new PGA Enterprises.

The others on the committee are PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan; former Tour player and board liaison Joe Ogilvie; Joe Gorder, who is an executive with Valero and the chairman of PGA Tour Enterprises; and John Henry, a principal with Fenway Sports Group and part of the Strategic Sports Group, which earlier this year invested $1.5 billion in PGA Tour Enterprises.

McIlroy said he prepped with the transaction committee for 90 minutes prior to the three-hour meeting.

“Maybe not surprised but maybe more encouraged,’’ McIlroy said. “I think a lot of progress had sort of been made. But definitely encouraged.’’

McIlroy said in an interview on Thursday that the committee and the PIF have been meeting remotely three times a week for the past several weeks.

“In terms of the deal, like the financials and the legals and all that, I think those three calls a week were more to do with their investment committee and SSG ... that's what those calls were.

“But I think last night was more talking about the future of the game and the vision and that was where I thought there was a lot of progress that was made.’’

Asked if he has a better understanding of what the PIF’s goals are in investing in PGA Tour Enterprises, McIlroy said:

“You've got to understand, they're a sovereign wealth fund. They invest in companies and in different things and they want a return on their investment. That's what they want. It doesn't seem like they're getting that at the minute within golf [with LIV Golf], and this—hopefully if things progress and we get to a certain point, then hopefully they see a future where that can happen, they can start to get some returns on their money.’’

The PGA Tour earlier in the day released a statement about the meeting in which it said progress was made.

“Representatives from the PGA Tour Enterprises Transaction Subcommittee and the PIF have been meeting multiple times weekly to work through potential deal terms and come to a shared vision on the future of professional golf,’’ the Tour said. “On Friday evening, an in-person session in New York City included the entire Transaction Subcommittee and PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan and his team, where more progress was made.

“We remain committed to these negotiations, which require working through complex considerations to best position golf for global growth. We want to get this right, and we are approaching discussions with careful consideration for our players, our fans, our partners and the game’s future.’’


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Bob Harig

BOB HARIG

Bob Harig is a senior golf writer for Sports Illustrated. He has more than 25 years experience covering golf, including 15 at ESPN. Bob is a regular guest on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio and has written two books, DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods and Tiger and Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry. He graduated from Indiana University where he earned an Evans Scholarship, named in honor of the great amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. Bob, a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America, lives in Clearwater, Florida.