The PGA Tour is in a lot of trouble, as shown by Rory McIlroy's interview.
The PGA Tour is in a lot of trouble, as shown by Rory McIlroy’s interview.

Rory McIlroy’s long chat with the Stick to Football podcast, which came out Wednesday, has a lot to unpack.

The five steps of grief seemed to be coming full circle for him.

Denial, anger, compromise, sadness, and finally acceptance. All of them are there.

In the last two years, the four-time major winner has seen and done it all. He has been the PGA Tour’s main defence against the rebellious Saudis and their PIF-backed LIV Golf.

When LIV Golf and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia were talked about, McIlroy’s voice was the strongest.

McIlroy is in the prime of his career, being in his early 30s. He defended Ponte Vedra and commissioner Jay Monahan, and he later worked with Tiger Woods to get players more involved in the Tour’s future and take more control of a policy board that seemed to be lost.

During the 2022 BMW Championship, McIlroy spoke out and joined Woods at the well-known meeting in Delaware. He pushed for change when he was on the policy board.

Even though he was one of the Tour’s most important voices, McIlroy quit the policy board in November because he had to focus on personal and business obligations.

Now that he is free, McIlroy is no longer required to defend the PGA Tour and Monahan without blinking.

After Jon Rahm left for LIV, McIlroy hit his first shot across the bow. He then told Rahm that he had to be on the next European Ryder Cup team in New York next year.

Then, shockingly, McIlroy said that he now sees LIV as a part of the sport, even though he had been against the idea for years.

For two years, McIlroy made it clear what he thought about LIV. Then, all of a sudden, those words were erased. Now, one of the PGA Tour’s staunchest supporters is changing the story and calling the professional game’s business plan into question.

McIlroy said on the podcast, “I think what LIV and the Saudis have shown is that you’re asking for millions of dollars to sponsor these events, but you can’t promise the sponsors that the players will show up.” “The PGA Tour has been doing so well for a long time.

That is, the PGA Tour is the only sport that doesn’t depend on “the gate,” or how much money is made from ticket sales. It’s the only sport where the prize money wouldn’t change if no one bought a ticket.

There is money for the purse from TV networks and donors. Any money made from food and drinks, tickets, merchandise, or hospitality goes to the tournament. Any money left over after costs is given to the causes connected with the event.

But now there’s a new twist: in answer to LIV Golf, the Tour is trying to get more money from the tournament to make up for the way they handled the purses. There are only two places that extra fee can come from: the bottom line or the money given to causes.

McIlroy isn’t psychic, but he can read minds.

McIlroy said, “You’ll never win a fight if you’re going money for money. We’ve seen that in other sports, but no one spends as much money as the Saudis.” “It forced the PGA Tour to spend a lot of money, which put them on a path that couldn’t be sustained. Now you can see some sponsors pulling out because the Tour is asking for so much money and the sponsors can’t afford it—they want $20 million to $25 million to sponsor an event, but the sponsors don’t see the value in it because they can’t be sure that the top 50 guys will play, so they won’t give them the money.”

And finally, someone gets what the Tour is going through.

The PGA Tour brand and the professional golf brand have both taken a hit. Golf’s TV numbers are down and sponsorship costs are going up. If you are a big company, the sport is no longer the best place to put your advertising money.

It’s still not clear if the Tour’s new deal with the PIF, which is said to be still being worked out, will make a big difference in how much sponsorship money the Tour makes.

Since the first LIV event in London, McIlroy has seen most of what has happened. He didn’t say that the PGA Tour is in trouble or that what will happen to it in the future was clear. But in the end, what’s needed is smarter advice and maybe even someone else to guide the ship.

A lot of golfers are good at hitting a little white ball on green grass, but not many are good enough to run a professional golf tour.

This group of golfers is not Deane Beman. He was the second PGA Tour commissioner and did his job for 20 years, from 1974 to 1994.

He won the British and U.S. Amateurs as well as four PGA Tour events before he became commissioner. Beman was a tough, no-nonsense boss who was one of the few great players who also had the right personality to be a good commissioner.

McIlroy has made it clear that the PGA Tour does not have a figure like Beman right now.

It’s been clear that the PGA Tour is the most important and powerful golf tour in the world for most of its history.

Everything changed when LIV Golf showed up with the PIF behind it.

Now the Tour is playing from a weak spot, which was made even clearer by what McIlroy said.

It’s still unclear where the Tour will go from here, but one thing is for sure: people are losing faith in Ponte Vedra’s leaders every day.

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