The PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund haven’t yet finalized a deal to combine their commercial assets, including the rival LIV Golf League, into a new for-profit entity that would reunify the fractured sport.
But the competing circuits’ biggest stars seem to be warming up to each other after two years of nonstop bickering.
In response to PGA Tour star Rory McIlroy‘s comments that he was too judgmental of golfers who jumped to the LIV Golf League, LIV Golf captain Phil Mickelson urged fans not to “pile on” McIlroy and suggested it was time “to let go of our hostilities.”
“This quote and the many others made today by Rory probably weren’t easy to say,” Mickelson wrote on his X account Wednesday. “Let’s not use this as an opportunity to pile on. Rather, it’s time for me and others to let go of our hostilities and work toward a positive future.”
Mickelson, one of the most outspoken critics of the PGA Tour during the circuits’ battle for the best golfers in the world, suggested that the LIV Golf League’s signing of reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm on Dec. 7 would help in unifying the two sides.
“[Rahm’s] signing is turning into a bridge to bring both sides together, as evidenced by the many comments today and a month ago about changing the rules for the Ryder Cup so Jon and others can play, so let’s use it as such,” Mickelson said. “Until an agreement is reached it will be business as usual for both sides but hopefully without the needless disdain.”
Mickelson and McIlroy have traded barbs on social media over the past several months. After McIlroy missed the cut at the Masters and took a couple of weeks off to clear his head, Mickelson suggested on X that the LIV Golf League’s limited schedule would be perfect for McIlroy.
“Problem is I don’t think there’s a team that wants him on it because they’d have to deal with all his bs,” Mickelson wrote on X.
Then, after professional gambler Billy Walters alleged in his book that Mickelson had tried to bet $400,000 on the 2012 U.S. Ryder Cup, in which he was competing, McIlroy told reporters, “At least he can bet on the Ryder Cup this year because he won’t be a part of it.”
McIlroy has been one of the biggest critics of the LIV Golf League. One day after a surprising framework agreement between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and the PIF was announced June 6, McIlroy told reporters at the Canadian Open that he still didn’t like the LIV Golf League, which has shotgun starts, team and individual competitions being played simultaneously, and 54-hole events.
“I still hate LIV,” McIlroy said at the time. “Like, I hate LIV. I hope it goes away, and I would fully expect that it does.”
But now, with a deal between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund expected to be finalized in the coming months, the four-time major champion has accepted that team golf will be part of the sport’s future ecosystem.
“I think, at this point, I was maybe a little judgmental of the guys who went to LIV Golf at the start, and I think it was a bit of a mistake on my part because I now realize that not everyone is in my position or in Tiger Woods’ position,” McIlroy told the “Stick to Football” podcast.
“We all turn professional to make a living playing the sports that we do, and I think that’s what I realized over the last two years. I can’t judge people for making that decision.”