Rory McIlroy washes hands of mess, resigns from PGA Tour Policy Board

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Rory McIlroy has resigned from the influential PGA Tour Policy Board.

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The shakeup of the tour’s leadership is the latest twist in a high-stakes standoff turned partnership between the PGA Tour and Saudi-led LIV Golf.

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McIlroy has been staunchly opposed to the breakaway tour, despite recently showing public support for Saudi investment in the PGA Tour.

“Citing personal and professional commitments, Rory McIlroy has notified the PGA Tour policy board that he is resigning his position as a player director,” a PGA Tour statement read.

A memo from commissioner Jay Monahan was sent to players:

“During his tenure, Rory’s insight has been instrumental in helping shape the success of the Tour and his willingness to thoughtfully voice his opinion has been especially impactful … Given the extraordinary time and effort that Rory — and all of his fellow player directors — have invested in the Tour during this unprecedented, transformational period in our history, we certainly understand and respect his decision to step down in order to focus on his game and his family.”

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What’s really behind McIlroy’s surprise departure from the tour’s leadership ranks is up for debate. The four-time major champion had been the face of the Monahan’s tour throughout its war with LIV Golf, often answering questions and offering opinions while Monahan hid from cameras inside PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra.

McIlroy’s unwavering support for the PGA Tour was rewarded by being sold down the river by Monahan when the tour pulled an about-face and struck a deal with the Saudi Public Investment Fund to bring golf’s rival factions under one umbrella.

When the framework deal was announced in June at the RBC Canadian Open, McIlroy said it was hard not to feel like something of a “sacrificial lamb.”

“Like I’ve put myself out there and this is what happens,” he said at the time.

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In recent months, as the PGA Tour and Saudi Public Investment Fund negotiate a deal for the future of golf, there has been an air of inevitability in McIlroy’s comments and this resignation appears to be a final hand-washing of the entire mess from the 34-year-old superstar.

McIlroy has managed to play some of the best golf of his career during this stretch of acrimony, but 2024 marks 10 years since his most recent major championship, so perhaps this really is a simple decision to fully dedicate his time and energy in pursuit of his lifelong sporting goals.

Another scenario is that the two sides are nearing a deal that McIlroy doesn’t feel comfortable with, or simply would rather not vote for.

McIlroy said this summer in Canada that the only way he will feel let down is if LIV Golf continues to be a thing in the world of golf, which is a distinct possibility, at least in the short term.

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After the PGA Tour’s bombshell announcement in June at Oakdale, I asked McIlroy whether he feels more pressure on or off the course these days.

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“Off,” he answered.

I also asked him if he had put too much faith in the PGA Tour, and whether perhaps he needed to look out for himself a little more.

He nodded, paused, and answered: “Yeah, I wouldn’t say I viewed the PGA Tour as through that altruism lens per se. At the end of the day, this is business and my job is playing golf. So the more that I can focus on that and focus on the birdies and the bogeys instead of the stuff that’s happened in the board room I’ll be much happier.”

Whether the reason is simple or not, Rory has left the chat and grabbed his clubs.

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