Rory McIlroy aware ‘loose lips sink ships’ as progress made towards golf future

The Framework Agreement between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund was due to be finalised by the end of the year.

Phil Casey
Tuesday 14 November 2023 13:12 GMT
Rory McIlroy has already secured a fifth Race to Dubai title ahead of this week’s season finale (Zac Goodwin/PA)
Rory McIlroy has already secured a fifth Race to Dubai title ahead of this week’s season finale (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Rory McIlroy insists progress is being made in talks over the future of men’s professional golf, but a fear that “loose lips sink ships” means it is being kept under wraps.

The Framework Agreement between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which blindsided players when it was announced in June, was due to be finalised by the end of the year.

Meeting that deadline appears unlikely, with the PGA Tour also understood to be assessing potential funding from alternative private equity sources. Fenway Sports Group – owners of Liverpool and the Boston Red Sox – are reported to be one of the interested parties.

McIlroy, who is one of the PGA Tour’s player directors, knows better than most what is happening behind the scenes, but acknowledged any deal with the PIF would need to be approved by the Unites States government.

“I think if you were in the middle of it, you would see that there’s a path forward,” McIlroy said in his press conference ahead of the DP World Tour Championship.

“It’s just that no one on the outside has any details, right. Loose lips sink ships, so we are trying to keep it tight and within walls. I’m sure when there’s news to tell, it will be told.

“I think getting something done sooner rather than later is a good thing. Because you know, even if we get a deal done, it doesn’t mean that it’s actually going to happen.

“That’s up to the United States government at that point and whether the Department of Justice think that it’s the right thing to do or whether (it’s) anti-competitive or whatever.

“Even if a deal does get done, it’s not a sure thing. So yeah, we are just going to have to wait and see. But in my opinion, the faster something gets done, the better.”

Asked if he was enjoying being on the “inside” in such discussions, McIlroy joked: “Not particularly, no.

“Not what I signed for when I went on the board. But the game of professional golf has been in flux for the last two years.”

McIlroy arrived in Dubai for the season-ending event already assured of winning a fifth Race to Dubai title, leaving him three behind the record tally of Colin Montgomerie.

I'm feeling like my game is in as good a shape as it's ever been throughout my, whatever it is, 16, 17-year career

Rory McIlroy

But despite that accolade and contributing a career-best performance as Europe regained the Ryder Cup, McIlroy was disappointed at failing to win a first major title since 2014.

The world number two birdied the first hole in the final round of the US Open to tie for the lead, but did not make another birdie at Los Angeles Country Club and finished a shot behind Wyndham Clark.

Asked to judge his season, McIlroy said: “Yeah, probably give it a seven out of 10.

“Played good golf. I had the two wins. I had my best-ever Ryder Cup, which feels like a win to me, especially coming off the back of Whistling Straits (where Europe lost 19-9 in 2021).

“So I’ve been happy with the year. If I looked back on one thing, I’ll rue that miss at LA. I had a great opportunity there to pick up another major and I didn’t.

“But I’m still not going to let that take away from the fact that it’s been another really consistent, solid year with some really good performances.

“I’m feeling like my game is in as good a shape as it’s ever been throughout my, whatever it is, 16, 17-year career.

“I’m happy with that and will try to finish this year off on a high and play well this week and reset and get ready for 2024.”

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