Rory McIlroy shoots down speculation he could U-turn to join Saudi-backed LIV Golf

Rory McIlroy has shut down speculation linking him to LIV Golf (Picture: Getty)

Rory McIlroy has distanced himself from suggestions he is considering a dramatic U-turn to join LIV Golf, saying the Saudi-backed league is “not for me”.

McIlroy has been a vocal and ardent critic of the breakaway circuit since it held its first event in 2022.

Since then, LIV has prised away several more high-profile names including McIlroy’s Ryder Cup teammates Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton this winter.

The Northern Irishman has also softened his stance in recent months, though, suggesting he had been too harsh on those who initially defected and even stating that LIV rebels should be able to return to the PGA Tour without facing a penalty.

Comments from the 34-year-old’s former agent Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler increased speculation that McIlroy himself might consider a shock move to LIV but the four-time major champion has now rubbished those suggestions.

‘It’s not for me,’ McIlroy said, speaking to ESPN at the Arnold Palmer Invitational when asked about LIV.

‘I’m too much of a traditionalist. I’m steeped in the… I love winning golf tournaments and looking at the trophy and seeing Sam Snead won this trophy, or Ben Hogan or Gene Sarazen or Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods or Nick Faldo – whoever it is – the people that came before me. That, to me, is a big deal in our game.’

 Jon Rahm of Spain and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland shake hands on the 18th green following their round on Day One of the DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 16, 2023.

McIlroy’s Ryder Cup teammate, Jon Rahm jumped ship earlier this winter (Picture: Getty)

McIlroy, though, reaffirmed his support for a deal between Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which bankrolls LIV, and the PGA Tour in another effort to end the civil war that has splintered men’s professional golf in recent years.

‘If we were to all put our heads together and be like “okay, what can we do to all come back together and move forward and be a little bit more cohesive”, then I’d be for that,’ he added.

A shock framework agreement between the PIF and the PGA Tour was initially brokered in June last year, although there has been little news of any developments since then.

Both parties already extended the date for an agreement beyond the initial deadline of December 31 2023, with hopes of a deal before the Masters in April now extremely unlikely.

In the meantime, the PGA Tour has agreed a historic $3billion investment deal with Strategic Sports Group, a consortium of American sports team owners including Fenway Sports Group who own Liverpool.

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