McIlroy removes himself from PGA Tour group chat after hearing Spieth's comments

Rory McIlroy exits PGA Tour group chat after hearing Jordan Spieth's latest comments about PIF deal. 

Andy Roberts's picture
Sat, 3 Feb 2024
McIlroy removes himself from PGA Tour group chat after hearing Spieth's comments

Rory McIlroy has removed himself from a PGA Tour group chat after learning Jordan Spieth felt a PIF deal was no longer needed in light of the circuit's deal with Strategic Sports Group (SSG) this week. 

Earlier this week, the PGA Tour announced a $3 billion private investment with SSG, a group of US-based investors led by Liverpool FC and Boston Red Sox owner John Henry. 

Tiger Woods paid tribute to SSG for their support of the PGA Tour and the game. 

Spieth, a PGA Tour policy board member, had spent the last few months hashing out the finer details of this deal on behalf of the membership. 

SSG has also helped to fund the launch of PGA Tour Enterprises, a new commercial venture for the PGA Tour that will give "close to 200 members" an opportunity to become equity holders in the circuit.

The agreement will see PGA Tour members receive $1.5 billion in immediate and future equity. 

Spieth, alongside player directors Woods, Patrick Cantlay, Peter Malnati, Adam Scott and Webb Simpson, voted unanimously for the deal.

But the latest update from the PGA Tour raises even more questions about their future, especially with the PGA Tour and Saudi PIF's framework agreement deadline now extended until just before The Masters. 

The PIF is the $700 billion treasure trove that is financing the LIV Golf League.

The deadline for the deal between them and the PGA Tour had been set for 31 December 2023 but the deadline has reportedly been pushed back until the end of March 2024. 

Despite the delay in such an agreement, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan stated this week the door very much remains open for the PIF "subject to regulatory agreements". 

But not everyone is convinced the PGA Tour needs the PIF any more. 

One of them is three-time major champion Spieth, who this week issued a rather blunt response about the deal in question. 

Simpson also stated during discussions the PIF was "not a priority". 

When pressed by a reporter at Pebble Beach how important the PIF really is for the PGA Tour, Spith said: "I think it just depends."

Spieth said he didn't think PIF investment was needed. "The short answer is we don't have to [bring them on board]," he said. 

Clearly choosing his words carefully, he added: "At this point if the PIF were interested in coming in on terms that our members like and/or the economic terms aren't beyond SSG's and they feel it would be a good idea, I think that's where the discussions will start."

But Spieth's words have not sat well with McIlroy at all. 

So much so, McIlroy has decided to remove himself from the PGA Tour group chat after hearing what policy board member Spieth had to say about the PIF. 

McIlroy of course also walked out of the PGA Tour's policy board at the end of 2023 to allow him to focus more on his golf game. 

According to Sports Illustrated, four-time major champion McIlroy held an hour-long conversation with Spieth ahead of this week's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Spieth wanted to see if everything was okay with McIlroy after seeing he had left the group chat, while McIlroy wanted to get things off his chest. 

"I just want to remove myself from the fray a little bit," said McIlroy, who has made a compete U-turn on his feelings about Saudi investment on the PGA Tour in 2024. 

"I talked to him [Spieth] about his comments, and we had a pretty frank discussion."

Rory McIlroy adamant PGA Tour must strike deal with PIF

McIlroy explained what he did not like much about Spieth's latest comments about PIF. 

"My thing was if I’m the original (potential) investor that thought that they were going to get this deal done back in July, and I'm hearing a board member say that, you know, we don't really need them, now, how are they going to think about that, what are they gonna feel about that?"

"They are still sitting out there with hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, that they're gonna pour it into sport, and I know what Jordan was saying, I absolutely know what he was saying and what he was trying to say, but if I were PIF and I was hearing that coming from here, the day after doing this SSG deal, it wouldn't have made me too happy, I guess?"

McIlroy is adamant the PIF must be part of the new PGA Tour Enterprises.

"Having PIF as your partner as opposed to not having them as your partner, I don't think is an option for the game of golf," continued McIlroy.

"I think they're committed to investing in golf and in the wider world of sport and if you can get them to invest their money the right way to unify the game of golf."

What do you make of McIlroy's dramatic U-turn where Saudi investment is concerned on the PGA Tour in 2024? Share your thoughts and comments over on the GolfMagic social media channels.

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