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    Sunday, June 23, 2024

    Rory McIlroy won’t rejoin PGA Tour board, says others were ‘uncomfortable’ with his potential return

    Rory McIlroy reacts after making birdie on the 16th hole during the final round of the PGA Zurich Classic golf tournament at TPC Louisiana in Avondale, Lousiana, on April 28. (Gerald Herbert/AP Photo)

    Charlotte, N.C. — Rory McIlroy won’t be returning to the PGA Tour board, saying Wednesday a plan to replace Webb Simpson was met with resistance from board members.

    Simpson, one of six player-directors, recently offered to give up his seat — but only if McIlroy were to replace him. McIlroy would have needed board approval to be reinstated to a position that he resigned from last November.

    But McIlroy said ahead of the Wells Fargo Championship that conversations surrounding his potential return became “pretty complicated and messy,” which reminded him of why he left in the first place.

    “I think with the way it happened it opened up some old wounds and scar tissue from things that have happened before,” McIlroy said. “I think there was a subset of people on the board that were maybe uncomfortable with me coming back on for some reason.”

    McIlroy’s reinstatement would have been viewed as a chance to help improve the PGA Tour’s stalled negotiations with the Saudi financial backers of LIV Golf.

    PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said the development “is in no way a commentary on Rory’s important perspective and influence.” He said it was a matter of adhering to the governance process of joining the board.

    “Webb remaining in his position as a member of the policy board and PGA Tour Enterprises board through the end of his term provides the continuity needed at this vital time," Monahan said.

    The world’s No. 2 player said when he stepped down he could no longer commit the time and energy that board work required with the PGA Tour trying to finalize an agreement with the Public Investment Fund.

    Unable to finalize a deal by the end of last year, the PGA Tour brought in Strategic Sports Group as a minority investor. That deal could be worth as much as $3 billion.

    “I put my hand up to help and it was, I wouldn’t say it was rejected, (but) it was a complicated process to get through to put me back on there,” McIlroy said about potentially returning the board. “So that’s all fine, no hard feelings and we’ll all move on.”

    Simpson said he now plans to finish out his three-year term on the board. He said he offered to give up his seat to McIlroy because he’s a “global superstar” and would give Europeans a needed voice in major tour decisions.

    McIlroy is still likely to be involved, though not in a board capacity, given the relationships he has built on both tours. He also met with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of PIF, last year during the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai at the end of 2022. McIlroy said on a soccer podcast in January he encouraged the PGA Tour to meet with Al-Rumayyan.

    The stunning framework agreement among the PGA Tour, European tour and PIF was announced June 6.

    “Rory always had great ideas of how do we move forward, how do we get the love and attention from fans back from where we had it maybe two years ago, how do we grow our business, all things related to the PGA Tour,” Simpson said.

    But there are some on the board who remain at odds with the four-time major champion after McIlroy changed his views about LIV Golf in recent months, suggesting that LIV players be allowed to return to the PGA Tour without penalty.

    McIlroy also disagreed in February with Jordan Spieth’s comments that a deal with PIF was not needed because of the SSG investment, although it would help with unification.

    McIlroy suggested one solution for growing the game would be going to a more global schedule that includes more tournaments overseas, although he questioned whether American players would want to travel out of the United States for a dozen events.

    Regardless, McIlroy remains bothered by the state of the game and wants to see a resolution for the good of the fans, a growing faction of which have become unhappy — or even worse, apathetic — with the splintering of players on two watered-down tours.

    McIlroy said it's all about finding a compromise for both sides, even though neither side may walk away completely happy.

    “I would say I’m impatient because I think we’ve got this window of opportunity to get it done, because both sides from a business perspective ... I wouldn’t say need to get it done, but it makes sense," McIlroy said. "And I just think — I sort of liken it to like when Northern Ireland went through the peace process in the ’90s and the Good Friday Agreement, neither side was happy. Catholics weren’t happy, Protestants weren’t happy, but it brought peace and then you just sort of learn to live with whatever has been negotiated, right?”

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