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    Rory McIlroy's IPL idea could be the solution to golf's civil war

    Rory McIlroy has suggested that LIV Golf could be held annually in two months – May and November. Photo: Getty Images/David Cannon < p>Just as he does with a golf club in his hand and a microphone nearby, Rory McIlroy doesn't lunge or indulge in shots and hope. From the fairway, McIlroy interacts with the media – natural but knowledgeable; ebullient but informed.

    That's why the world number two's remarks on Gary Neville's podcast last week should be analyzed in more depth than the headline-grabbing simplicity of McIlroy's great turnaround at LIV Golf. Of course, McIlroy has softened his stance on the Saudi-funded scheme Arabia, but this change of attitude was a slow rather than an instant epiphany, and was based on pragmatism rather than any recognition that he had been wrong about LIV since then. beginning.

    Whatever his critics may say – and some of their objections to the Northern Irishman's treatment may have some merit – McIlroy is looking forward, not back, and his statements about how team competition might work within a unified global golf calendar will not be taken from air.

    McIlroy may have stepped down from his position as player-director on the PGA Tour's policy council – the committee that will ultimately have the final say if the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund deal goes through – but rest assured he remains in the loop. And not just about the Tour.

    McIlroy was never in the dark about the ongoing negotiations

    We knew in advance that McIlroy had swallowed his pride – and, at least temporarily, stopped the venom he spat on almost weekly LIV address – during a meeting with LIV Chairman and PIF Governor Yasser Al-Rumayyan in Dubai. in November 2022. What we didn't know was that he then returned to the political council and begged the Tour officials to meet with Al-Rumayyan.

    Thus, channels that had previously seemed irretrievably blocked were opened, and just a few months later a “framework agreement” was signed. McIlroy was surprised by the haste of the announcement, but he was never ignorant of negotiations taking place in the shadows. Jimmy Dunn, the Tour executive who oversaw the deals, is a family friend, and Al-Rumayyan was the contact by then.

    As negotiations continued, McIlroy expressed a desire for PIF to be included in the Tour, a surprising voice for American investors. Indeed, McIlroy's thinly veiled warnings that he should ditch mutual funds and rely solely on American private equity, and therefore risk reopening cracks in the professional men's game, could be seen as a premonition of Jon Rahm's £450 million runaway last month.

    < p>McIlroy knew that Al-Rumayyan would not be fooled and that it was a dangerous game. Jay Monahan, PGA Tour commissioner, had a lot of convincing to do before he finally found himself at the table with a PIF wallet.

    Other professionals on the political board have been inclined to abandon the Saudis to their fate for one reason or another, but McIlroy has no doubt that this battle should be avoided at all costs. Something must change and a solution must be found. Professional men's golf is in disarray, regardless of PIF involvement. This is a chance to at least get the funding needed to pay out the obscene prize money.

    “I would love to see LIV become the IPL of golf,” McIlroy said on the Stick to Football podcast. “They take up two months of the calendar. You go out and do team stuff, but in a slightly different format. If they did something like that, I'd say, “Yeah, that sounds fun,” because you're working within an ecosystem.”

    The majors are grouped too tightly together

    McIlroy has indicated May and November for a potential golf version of the IPL. Again, these dates did not occur to him. They make sense.

    After the PGA Tour insisted in 2018 that August be kept separate to avoid the start of the NFL season, the PGA of the United States was moved to May. Thus, the main directions come in quick succession. Masters in April, US PGA next month, US Open in June, Open in July…

    These are the events that matter, but McIlroy said, “If they're so close together, there's a danger that fans will only care from the second week of April to the third week of July.”

    “I I wish they were positioned like they are in tennis,” McIlroy added. “With the Australian Open in January and the US Open in September, it will be a good nine-month period of relevance.”

    The US PGA could be moved to August or even September, with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour able to operate on a 10-month schedule for top players who, with additional appearances, would need a proper indoor season. The elite will be signing golf's IPL and sponsors will be confident that the superstars will be on stage at that time and place. That's what McIlroy meant when he told Neville that LIV had “exposed its flaws.”

    “You're asking for millions of dollars to sponsor these events, but you can't guarantee the sponsors that the players will show up,” McIlroy said. “I can't believe the PGA Tour has done well for so long.”

    It's the same on American television. Despite billions of dollars in contracts with the Tour and majors, not a single tournament managed to crack the top 100 sports broadcasts in 2023. The Masters was in 131st place.

    Yes, golf did not make the cut, but it continued to bring in ever-increasing checks that its popularity could not possibly deserve. McIlroy is not stupid. He understands the anomaly. He will also have input on how the books can be balanced.

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