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A penny for Rory McIlroy’s thoughts. Actually make that around $300 million, the sum the Northern Irishman allegedly turned down to defect to LIV.

McIlroy must be absolutely fuming this morning. He should be. He has been completely shafted.

If it is really true that he was kept in the dark by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, as Monahan himself claimed on Tuesday night, he should be doubly furious. It beggars belief.

McIlroy, more than anyone, went in to bat for the PGA Tour. He staked his reputation and his good name on it. He took bullets for Monahan.

Others who remained loyal to the PGA and DP World Tours will rightly be furious about money lost. Kicking themselves that they didn’t take the (obscene) riches on offer from LIV when they had the chance, after being warned they would be expelled from their respective tours and sued.

For McIlroy, though, it was never about money. The 33-year-old has more than enough of that. This merger between the PGA and European Tours and Saudi Arabia’s LIV promises to make him richer still.

McIlroy believed passionately that what he was doing was right. He was the face of the PGA Tour’s campaign against LIV for two years. He fell out with fellow professionals over it. His game suffered because of it. And now? Not even a heads up.

There will be those who doubt that can be true; who will point to his hangdog demeanour and sudden reluctance to talk about LIV at the recent US PGA Championship at Oak Hill as proof that he must have known what was coming down the fairway, or out of the rough.

But equally, there is no strong reason to doubt Monahan’s claim that due to the sensitive nature of the talks, only two people on the PGA board knew, and that since it was “only” a framework agreement, he did not make McIlroy or fellow defender-in-chief Tiger Woods aware until the last minute. He has shown himself to be completely amoral.

This is a man who referred not so long ago to 9/11 victims, asking his players to consider whether they had ever “had to apologise for being a member of the PGA Tour?”

A man who, according to US Senator Chris Murphy, argued just months ago about how the Saudis’ human rights record should disqualify them from having a stake in a major American sport, only to change tack when the numbers got big enough. “I guess maybe their concerns weren’t really about human rights?” Murphy mused.

How used must McIlroy feel. This is the sort of hypocrisy into which he has been co-opted.

Of course only a fool could imagine the LIV-PGA war was ever about morals. It was always about money, and power. But for McIlroy there was something purer. For the best part of two years, he was unambiguous, unshakable in his anti-LIV stance. Who can forget his blunt “you make your bed, you lie in it” comment when asked last year about “sportswashing” criticism being levelled at LIV golfers? This merger has completely pulled the rug out from under him.

Clearly there is much which is yet to be explained about the new entity. How will it work? Who will hold the balance of power? What will the implications be for the Ryder Cup? But at the very least he must feel extremely queasy that he staked his reputation defending an organisation which purported to stand against LIV on moral grounds only to then run off with them, without even telling him.

How much McIlroy and Woods really knew of the deal, when they knew of it, whether they campaigned against it, will no doubt come out in the wash. Perhaps they, like Monahan on Tuesday, will argue that in the round the merger is a good thing. A necessary truce from which the game can move on (McIlroy in particular does not have much choice in the matter – it is either that or retire.) Perhaps it is.

But, as Andrew Coltart pointed out on Sky Sports, the Northern Irishman must be asking himself what it was all for.

“He [McIlroy] has given his heart and soul for the last two years, arguably to the detriment of his own golf game,” Coltart said. “I have to question whether he knew much of this.

“But there’s absolutely no doubt that if he did, it would have been an incredible distraction. And he would have wondered what was all the time and effort for to get to this point.”ot; about his hangdog body language, his inconsistent form, his sudden U-turn on LIV pronouncements.

PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf merger: the winners and losers

By Jeremy Wilson

Winners

Yasir Al-Rumayyan

The governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is arguably now the most powerful man in world golf. He will become the chairman of the new for-profit company that will combine the PGA, DP World Tour and LIV Golf’s commercial operations.

Al-Rumayyan is already the chair of Newcastle United, who are owned by the PIF. Crucially, golf’s deal means that costly and potentially awkward litigation between the tours has already been dropped. Court documents submitted on behalf of the PIF in March had already described themselves and Al-Rumayyan as “a sovereign instrumentality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a sitting minister of the Saudi Government”.

This prompted calls for a fresh investigation into Newcastle’s ownership after the Premier League talk in 2021 of “legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle”. Al-Rumayyan hailed golf’s new arrangements as a new era that will benefit players and fans. “There is no question that the LIV model has been positively transformative for golf,” he said.

Phil Mickelson and the LIV rebels

Those golfers who took the money and joined LIV are likely to feel rather pleased with their decision today. Not only have their bank balances swollen hugely over the past year but they are also now back part of a unified tour, with all its tradition, alongside those who stayed loyal to the PGA and DP World Tours. “Awesome day today,” said Mickleson, prompting a high five emoji response from Greg Norman Jr, whose father is the CEO of LIV.

Donald Trump could also rather feel like Nostradamus following his prediction last year. “All of those golfers that remain ‘loyal’ to the very disloyal PGA, in all of its different forms, will pay a big price when the inevitable merger with LIV comes,” Trump wrote. “If you don’t take the money now, you will get nothing after the merger takes place, and only say how smart the original signees were.”

Ryder Cup

Lee Westwood, Sergio García, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson had all resigned their memberships from DP World Tour and become ineligible for this year’s Ryder Cup, which will take place from 29 September to 1 October. Those players could now return, with the new enterprise pledging to establish a “fair and objective process” for players to re-apply for membership after the end of this season. The precise timescale is currently unclear but the prospect of Europe and the USA fielding their very best players has just grown enormously. Keith Pelley, the chief executive of the DP World Tour, had first brought the PIF into the professional game with the inauguration of the Saudi International in 2019 and is understood to have played a key part in the peace talks.

”This is a momentous day,” he said. “Together we will be stronger than ever and well positioned to continue to bring the game to all corners of the globe.”

Losers

PGA Tour and Jay Monahan

It is true that the PGA Tour will benefit financially from a massive capital investment from the PIF, which will initially be the exclusive investor in golf’s new commercial entity, but at what price to the organisation’s reputation and that of its commissioner?

Monahan has previously called LIV “a for­eign monar­chy that is spend­ing bil­lions of dol­lars in an at­tempt to buy the game of golf”. He also even referenced the 9/11 disaster in dismissing LIV’s plans. “I think you’d have to be living under a rock to not know there are significant implications,” he said. “Two families close to me lost loved ones [in 9/11]. I would ask any player that has left, or any player that would ever consider leaving, have you ever had to apologise for being a member of the PGA Tour?”

As well as the hypocrisy, PGA Tour players are clearly unhappy at the lack of communication and consultation, with several immediately taking to social media to express shock at the announcement.

Rory McIlroy

No player has given more of himself publicly to defend the PGA Tour against LIV Golf over the past year. He has repeatedly spoken out in press conferences and interviews, describing the fracture in golf as “out of control” and personally criticising some of those players who jumped ship. “There’s no room in the golf world for LIV Golf,” he said. “I don’t agree with what LIV is doing. If LIV went away tomorrow, I’d be super happy.” The tone, though, noticeably changed over the past month when, having acknowledged that LIV’s emergence had benefited all elite players, he became silent on the spat.

Asked if it was going to be a conscious decision to try to sidestep talking about the issue, he replied simply “yes” and said that he did not know where the sport would be in the future.

McIlroy is understood to have turned down offers in the hundreds of millions to play in LIV Golf events.

Greg Norman

The 68-year-old former Open champion was the public face of LIV Golf last year but conspicuous by his absence from the statement. Indeed, according to Al-Rumayyan, the chair of golf’s new for-profit corporate entity, Norman was only told about the historic deal shortly before it became public.

Norman has become a hugely decisive figure in golf’s civil war, with Woods previously saying there could be no handshake between the sides because first, Norman “has to go.”

The Australian learned of the deal moments before a TV interview aired on CNBC with Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and Al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

“I made a call just before this and of course he is a partner with us, and all the stakeholders that we have with us, they had the call right before this interview,” Al-Rumayyan said.

Norman wasn’t invited to the Masters in April to “limit drama,” according to Augusta National Golf Club chair Fred Ridley. Eighteen LIV golfers competed in the Masters.

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