Rory McIlroy faced the press on Tuesday in Dubai, answering questions ahead of the DP World Tour Championship. One question proved particularly prescient.
Do you like to sit at this particular table?
The table in question was PGA Tour Board of Directors. And McIlroy’s response was direct.
“Not particularly, no,” he said. “This is not what I signed up for every time I got on the board. But yes, professional golf has been evolving over the past two years.
Those comments were teased by news that would be released later Tuesday evening in the form of an email from the PGA Tour commissioner. Jay Monahan: McIlroy had resigned from his position.
The email, first published by Monday Q Info on Twittersaid McIlroy sent a resignation letter to the rest of the board Tuesday afternoon, calling it a “difficult decision” made “due to professional and personal commitments.”
Monahan then thanked McIlroy for serving on the Player Advisory Council, which he did from 2019 to 2021 before becoming director of players on the policy council in 2022 and 2023. His term was set to expire at the end of 2024.
Since his arrival in early 2022, McIlroy has played a key role in reshaping the Tour; he rallied support for a unified PGA Tour response to LIV, including a new model that has become the signature events that will define the 2024 PGA Tour season.
The remaining player managers will now elect a successor for the remainder of McIlroy’s term.
Overall, the news comes five months after the Tour entered into a framework agreement with the Saudi Public Investment Fund, the backer of LIV Golf, to form a joint company going forward. McIlroy had spent much of the previous year fighting for the future of the PGA Tour in his battle with LIV; he admitted at the time that the sudden announcement of the deal left McIlroy feeling “like a sacrificial lamb.”
In the months since, McIlroy has stayed away from the topic as much as he can and backed away from his original stance, recognizing the changing dynamics of the professional game and the potential benefits of a PIF investment in the ecosystem existing. On Tuesday, he reiterated that at this point he hoped the deal would be completed.
The news also follows a Monday Board Meeting Note delivered by Monahan updating players on the board’s positions and ongoing negotiations around this framework agreement.
This note expressed the Tour’s desire to negotiate “towards a definitive agreement with the PIF and the DP World Tour”. He outlined additional interest from “dozens” of non-PIF investors, which he is currently evaluating. And he announced that Patrick Cantlaywho was serving in a one-year position, had been reappointed by the player directors for a three-year term from 2024 to 2026. This formalized his place on the board alongside Charley Hoffman, Peter Malnati and Webb Simpson as well as Tiger Woods, who joined the board in August, and McIlroy.
It was the second time this week that Cantlay and McIlroy made headlines together; in a interview published on Sunday, McIlroy said his relationship with Cantlay was “average at best” and added that they “see the world very differently” in the context of McIlroy’s Ryder Cup showdown with Cantlay’s caddy. Joe LaCava.
Michael Kim was among the first pros to react to McIlroy’s decision; he wrote that he was “a little sad” to hear the news of his resignation.
“I hope someone thoughtful and reasonable will replace him,” he wrote on Twitter.
It’s clear that McIlroy continues to think about the future of the game. He made clear Tuesday that he is considering golf’s attempts to reach a younger audience. “The future of our game is about trying to engage the younger generations and trying to make them relate to our game in some way,” he said.
McIlroy added praise for recent developments on the DP World Tour, which formalized a path to the PGA Tour, a controversial move due to the emphasis on the former as a feeder tour. “It’s always been there. It’s just a little more official,” he said.
He also thought about the end result of any discussion.
“Okay, if we can create a perfect golf calendar, what would it look like? McIlroy asked rhetorically. “And I don’t think it would look like it does right now.” I think changes would be made.
But for now, if McIlroy is involved in these changes, it will come outside the confines of the Policy Council.
Until McIlroy comments on the resignation, it is unclear what combination of factors led to his decision, leaving questions about his motivations, the future of the board and what leadership role he wants or doesn’t want to play. But during his Tuesday press conference, while touting professional football’s financial strength, he also hinted at the questions it faces.
“I think if you were in the middle of all of this, you would see that there is a path forward,” he said. “It’s just that no one outside has any details, right. Loose lips sink ships, so we try to keep it tight and inside the walls. I am sure that when there is news to be announced, it will be announced.
With McIlroy’s letter to the board later Tuesday came the first news. The full extent of what this means remains to be seen.