Rory McIlroy Reflects on Pro Golf Divide: 'I Wish I Hadn't Gotten As Deeply Involved'

At the RBC Canadian Open, a milestone event around the game's schism the last two years, the two-time winner looked back.
Rory McIlroy is back at the RBC Canadian Open, where he won in 2022 and 2019.
Rory McIlroy is back at the RBC Canadian Open, where he won in 2022 and 2019. / Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

In many ways, Rory McIlroy has been at the forefront of the PGA Tour/LIV Golf battle, speaking out against the new league but more recently pushing for a deal between the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia—which backs LIV Golf—and the PGA Tour.

The RBC Canadian Open, where McIlroy is competing this week in Hamilton, Ontario, is an important reminder in the process.

Two years ago, it was played the same week as LIV Golf’s first-ever event in London—and McIlroy won it. Last year it came the same week that the controversial “framework agreement” was announced and by which McIlroy, like the other players, was blindsided.

“In hindsight, I wish I hadn't gotten as deeply involved in it, and I've articulated that,” McIlroy said in a news conference. “I hold no grudge, I hold no resentment over the guys that chose to go and play on LIV. Everyone's got their own decisions to make and everyone is, has the right to make those decisions.

“My whole thing is I'm just disappointed to what it's done to—not to the game of golf, the game of golf will be fine—but men's professional golf and this sort of divide we have at the minute.”

McIlroy, who three weeks ago won the Wells Fargo Championship for his 26th PGA Tour victory, resigned his position as a player-director last November on the PGA Tour Policy Board.

But he then sought to get it back when another player-director, Webb Simpson, thought about resigning, with McIlroy taking his place.

That move was rebuffed by other board members and it was later announced that McIlroy would be part of a group along with Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan called the “transaction subcommittee” that would be involved in direct negotiations with the PIF, which are said to be ongoing.

“Hopefully, we're on a path to sorting that out and getting that to come back together,’’ he said. “I mean, in hindsight, hindsight's always 20/20, but in hindsight I wish I hadn't had gotten as deeply involved as I have.”


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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.