Rory: Other players balked over return to board

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Rory McIlroy will not return to the PGA Tour’s policy board as expected because of other player directors’ concerns about bringing him back, McIlroy said Wednesday.

McIlroy, who resigned from the policy board on Nov. 14, was expected to replace Webb Simpson on the PGA Tour policy board and the board of directors of PGA Tour Enterprises.

“There’s been a lot of conversations,” McIlroy said ahead of this week’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club. “Sort of reminded me partly why I didn’t [stay on the board]. So yeah, I think it got pretty complicated and pretty messy.

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

Simpson, 38, will finish out his term, which expires in 2025. Simpson said he had planned to step down from both boards to spend time with his family.

“I think the best course of action is if, you know, there’s some people on there that aren’t comfortable with me coming back on, then I think Webb just stays on and sees out his term,” McIlroy said. “I think he’s gotten to a place where he’s comfortable with doing that, and I just sort of keep doing what I’m doing.”

Along with Simpson, the other player directors on the tour’s policy board are Patrick Cantlay, Peter Malnati, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods. Former tour member Joe Ogilvie is a board liaison.

McIlroy, the No. 2 golfer in the world, had joined the policy board in 2022 and was expected to serve through 2024. The 35-year-old cited personal and professional commitments in making his decision to leave the board late last year.

McIlroy’s surprising reversal comes at a time when the PGA Tour is attempting to negotiate a final agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which finances the rival LIV Golf League. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and policy board player directors met with PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan in the Bahamas on March 18.

McIlroy has previously met with Al-Rumayyan to discuss the future of men’s professional golf. McIlroy said Al-Rumayyan wanted to do the “right thing” with PIF’s investment in golf.

He said some PGA Tour members have voiced concerns about potentially playing a global schedule outside the U.S. and whether to allow golfers who left for LIV Golf to come back to the tour.

With Simpson staying on the policy board, McIlroy said he is “still optimistic” that a deal with the PIF can get done.

“I think Webb staying on is a really good thing,” McIlroy said. “I think he’s got a really balanced voice in all of this, and I think he sees the bigger picture, which is great. My fear was if Webb stepped off and it wasn’t me that was going in his place, what could potentially happen? Yeah, I’m really happy that Webb has made that decision to stay on and serve out the rest of his term.”

McIlroy, who grew up in Northern Ireland, said both sides will have to compromise in good faith to get a deal done. He is frustrated that a deal hasn’t been finalized because “we’ve got this window of opportunity to get it done.”

While discussing what would have to happen to bring the fractured sport together, McIlroy invoked the Good Friday Agreement of April 10, 1998, which ended political unrest in Ireland and Northern Ireland that had occurred since the 1960s.

“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?” McIlroy said. “That was in 1998 or whatever it was, and 20, 25, 30 years ahead, my generation doesn’t know any different. It’s just this is what it’s always been like, and we’ve never known anything but peace.

“That’s sort of my little, I guess, way of trying to think about it and trying to make both sides see that there could be a compromise here. Yeah, it’s probably not going to feel great for either side, but if it’s a place where the game of golf starts to thrive again and we can all get back together, then I think that’s ultimately a really good thing.”

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