Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy do not currently see eye to eye as it relates to the PGA Tour partnering with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).
McIlroy believes the tour should continue its discussions with the PIF, the sovereign wealth fund that bankrolls LIV Golf, while Spieth does not see a need for it.
Spieth’s take came the same day the PGA Tour announced a partnership with the Strategic Sports Group (SSG). The SSG comprises a consortium of American professional sports owners, who, together, will invest up to $3 billion into a new for-profit entity called PGA Tour Enterprises.
“I don’t think that [an agreement with PIF] needed,” Spieth said ahead of this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
“At this point, if the PIF were interested in coming in on terms that our members like and/or the economic terms are at or not beyond SSGs… I think that’s where the discussions will start.”
After Spieth made these comments Wednesday, he dialed up McIlroy, who, according to Alex Miceli of Sports Illustrated, removed himself from a group text consisting of top players on the tour.
“I just want to remove myself from the fray a little bit,” McIlroy said. “I talked to him about his comments. And we had a pretty frank discussion.”
Spieth replaced McIlroy on the PGA Tour Policy Board this past fall after the Northern Irishman stepped down.
“My thing was if I’m the original investor that thought that they were going to get this deal done back in July, and I’m hearing a board member say that we don’t really need them, now, how are they going to think about that, what are they gonna feel about that?” McIlroy said about his call with Spieth.
“They are still sitting out there with hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, that they’re gonna pour into [our] sport. And I know what [Spieth] was saying, I absolutely know what he was saying and what he was trying to say. But if I were PIF and I was hearing that coming from here, the day after doing this SSG deal, it wouldn’t have made me too happy, I guess?”
Earlier in the week, McIlroy completely changed his tune regarding the Saudi PIF and LIV Golf. Simply, McIlroy wants to see golf come back together again.
“I’ve changed my tune on that because I see where golf is,” McIlroy said Tuesday.
“Having a diminished PGA Tour and a diminished LIV Tour or anything else is bad for both parties. It would be much better to be together and move forward together for the good of the game. That’s my opinion of it.”
It’s not that Spieth wants to see a divided sport either; he just has a different perspective on the tour’s current negotiations.
And yet, these differences in opinions represent the entire tour. Multiple players have admitted that at Pebble Beach. However, as the next few months shake out, the PGA Tour must keep its membership up-to-date, involved, and informed. If not, it will continue to lose its membership to LIV, devaluing its product and, in turn, disappointing its new investment partners.