Rory McIlroy Isn’t Joining LIV Golf, But He’s Done Trying to Beat It

"I've just accepted the fact that this is part of our sport now," he said

Rory McIlroy at the DP World Tour Championship.
Rory McIlroy sounds like he's raised the white flag on his war with LIV.
Andrew Redington/Getty

When the PGA Tour’s 2024 season tees off today in Maui with The Sentry, neither defending champion Jon Rahm nor tour star Rory McIlroy will be among the event’s 59-player field because the former is now a member of LIV Golf and the latter chose to opt out and will begin his year next week in Dubai.

A year ago, it would have been difficult to predict that the 2024 PGA Tour season would begin without both Rahm and McIlroy on the course, but the rise of LIV over the past 12 months has had a major impact on professional golf and its players. Rahm, who initially claimed he had no interest in switching pro circuits, decided that the piles of Saudi money he was being offered were too appealing to pass up and joined the upstart tour. McIlroy has not made the same choice, but it sounds like he has decided to stop railing against those who have and is ending his battle against the PGA Tour’s main competitor.

Jon Rahm Doesn’t Need LIV’s Money. He’s Taking It Anyhow.
“The Wall Street Journal” reports the 29-year-old Spaniard is leaving the PGA Tour

Appearing on Gary Neville’s The Overlap, McIlroy, who has spent two years bashing Saudi-backed LIV on behalf of the PGA Tour, referred to Rahm’s decision to jump ship as “opportunistic” and also called his opposition to the upstart circuit over the past 12 months as “a bit of a mistake.”

“I’ve gone through the last two years with this altruistic approach where I’ve looked at the world the way I’ve wanted to see it,” he said. “Ultimately, you can say what you want and do what you want, but at the end of the day, you’re not going to be able to change people’s minds. You’re never going to make them decide based on what you say…I wouldn’t say I’ve lost the fight against LIV, but I’ve just accepted the fact that this is part of our sport now.”

The fight that McIlroy has put up against LIV has taken patience, effort and time. It’s also taken its toll on the Northern Irishman and hasn’t really ended up getting him much of anything as the PGA continues to lose players to LIV Golf even as the two rival tours are working on some sort of merger which may or may not happen.

As James Colgan of GOLF points out, McIlroy’s crusade against LIV Golf may have been exacting too high a price on his well-being and holding him back from focusing on pursuing more majors (he has four but hasn’t won one in almost a decade) and cementing his status as a golf legend.

“Rory, fighting the good fight has taken two long years. He’s lost friends and relationships and no small chunk of his free time. Now there are far more important accomplishments to pursue — majors and legacies and Ryder Cup parking lot brawls — that reflect the best light of professional golf without forcing him into ethically choppy (and personally ruinous) waters,” Colgan writes. “This, it seems, is what McIlroy’s sudden reversal was really about. Not a change of opinion or loss in belief, but a war that dragged on for long enough to find himself in the battlefield alone. A ‘good fight’ that suddenly became very bad.”

Good or bad, it sounds as if McIlroy’s fight is over. It’s a win for LIV, but perhaps it’ll be a win for McIlroy as well.

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