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Rory McIlroy: PGA Tour investment talks progressing but ‘loose lips sink ships’

Should McIlroy want to get out of golf's politics?
Damon Hack and Eamon Lynch react to Rory McIlroy's press conference after he won the Race to Dubai, debating whether McIlroy should want out of golf's political scene or whether "this is what he signed up for."

After a lengthy board meeting Monday to discuss the future of the PGA Tour, Rory McIlroy said that talks are progressing behind the scenes and hopes that a deal is completed “sooner rather than later” for all involved.

A Dec. 31 deadline looms for the Tour and Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia to reach a definitive agreement after their shocking initial partnership was announced in early June. But the Tour is also looking at separate investment options outside of the PIF, with Fenway Sports Group among the potential interested investors.

In McIlroy’s press conference ahead of the DP World Tour’s season-ending tournament in Dubai, a reporter suggested that the waters were “muddy” with so much unknown at the moment.

“I think if you were in the middle of it, you would see that there’s a path forward,” McIlroy said. “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.”

At last week’s TGL team launch in Boston, McIlroy said that he hopes that the PIF is involved in the final agreement because it could help heal a “fractured competitive landscape.” But he seemed to agree Tuesday with the idea that a deal with the PIF was unlikely to happen before the end of the year (though both sides can agree to extend the deadline into 2024).

“Even if we get a deal done, it doesn’t mean that it’s actually going to happen,” he said. “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 gets done, it’s not a sure thing.

“So yeah, we’re just going to have to wait and see. But in my opinion, the faster something gets done, the better.”

Last week McIlroy was confirmed for a fifth Harry Vardon Trophy as the European No. 1 once it became mathematically impossible for any player to catch him this week at the DP World Tour Championship.

McIlroy called his season a “7 out of 10,” with two wins, and his best-ever Ryder Cup performance. But five months on, he’s still ruing a near-miss at the U.S. Open, when he came one shot shy of winning his first major in nine years.

“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,” he said. “I’m feeling like my game is in as good of shape as it’s ever been throughout my 16- or 17-year career. I’m happy with that, and I’ll try to finish this year off on a high and play well this week and reset and get ready for 2024.”

McIlroy has already confirmed that he’ll skip the PGA Tour’s 2024 lid-lifter at Kapalua, instead starting the new year with back-to-back starts in Dubai. His first PGA Tour start will be the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, now a signature event, on Feb. 1-4.