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Rory McIlroy: ‘If LIV Golf was the last place to play golf on earth I would retire’

GULLANE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy didn’t watch Tuesday’s hearing in Washington, D.C, as senators questioned PGA Tour officials for nearly three hours about the circuit’s framework agreement with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. As one of the few people in the world who knew some sort of deal between the circuit and the PIF was being negotiated, he didn’t need to.

“There wasn’t a lot of new information in there for me,” he said of Tuesday’s hearing. “There was going to be new information for other people, but as I’ve said I’ve almost been too close to it for the last year and a bit so it’s nice to try to distance myself from it.”

McIlroy did, however, set the record straight on a proposal from PIF that would have made the Northern Irishman, and Tiger Woods, LIV Golf team owners.

“If LIV Golf was the last place to play golf on earth I would retire, that’s how I feel about it,” he said Thursday at the Genesis Scottish Open where he opened with a 6-under 64. “I’d play the majors, but I’d be pretty comfortable [not playing].”

According to Tuesday’s testimony and document disclosure to the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, PIF offered the Tour a “Best of Both Worlds” proposal as negotiations intensified this year, that would include McIlroy and Woods owning a team and playing 10 LIV Golf events. They would also have played a “minimum” of two Tour events in Saudi Arabia that would have been sponsored by either the PIF or Aramco, the Saudi state petroleum and natural gas company.

According to a letter sent to Tour policy board member Jimmy Dunne from an English businessman late last year, McIlroy met with the governor of the PIF, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, last November in Dubai. “It was a very cordial and constructive meeting,” the letter from Roger Devlin read.

McIlroy said he understood the push back from players to the agreement and can empathize with their frustration at not being a part of the original process, but he also understood the Tour’s motivations.

“They were trying to do what was right for the Tour, which in turn means what’s right for the players on that Tour. They were negotiating their survival,” McIlroy said. “That’s a very fair thing for a business to do. I’m apathetic to all the noise around it. As long as the tournaments I play keep on existing, I’ll be very happy to play them and be a professional golfer.”

McIlroy was also asked about comments earlier this week from players that were critical of commissioner Jay Monahan, who is set to return to work next week following a leave because of a “medical situation.”

“I wasn’t quite as in the dark as some of the other guys, but people felt blind-sided by it and I can obviously understand why Jordan [Spieth] and Xander [Schauffele] and a lot of the other guys would feel that way,” McIlroy said. “After everything that’s transpired over the last few weeks the players are going to find themselves more at the table to try to get whatever that is they want out of it.”

McIlroy is one of five player directors on the Tour’s policy board that is now negotiating a “definitive” agreement with the PIF.