Rory McIlroy values ​​inheritance over money

Rory McIlroy once bore the burden of being the next Tiger Woods. He never reached those heights – who could? – but it becomes something just as remarkable: the guardian of the vast history of golf.

At 33, McIlroy is old enough to play in more than 50 majors, but young enough to compete in them regularly. (Well, three days every four, but still.) This, combined with a clear love of the game’s history, gives him a perspective that encompasses both “things were better in the good old days” and “where my next test comes from” from? “

With the benefit of this prospect – along with four majors, plus many millions in career profits – McIlroy has set his sights firmly on the PGA Tour camp in his battle with the new LIV Golf.

Speaking on Tuesday before the US Open and looking much more comfortable than Phil Mickelson had on the same podium the day before, McIlroy presented the battle between the two tours as one between money for inheritance, short-term wealth versus centuries of history.

“The PGA Tour was created by people and players from tours who came before us, like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer,” McIlroy said. “They created something and worked hard for something and I hate to see all the players who were before us and all the hard work they put in just turned out to be nothing.

McIlroy also highlighted the tour’s efforts as a charity, with billions donated to charities in the United States and around the world. “When you talk about the Tour and everything that’s going on right now, you have to see the bigger picture than just golf,” McIlroy said. “I think I tried to look at everything more broadly and I just think that’s the right thing to do.

This is an exciting argument, especially for people who are not offered eight- and nine-digit checks to play golf. But it also opposes the cold reality: inheritance is not equal to money. All the sublime tales of Nicklaus and Palmer, all the gentle piano music and dewy images of sunrises over dew-strewn fairways, can’t be compared – for many players – to a fat test for easy work.

In his honor, McIlroy – unlike many of the fiercest critics or ardent supporters of the LIV – understands that we live in a complex world with competing responsibilities and constant degrees of compromise.

“I spent a lot of time in the Middle East and most of the people I met there are very, very nice people, but there are bad people everywhere. “The bad people who came from this part of the world have done some absolutely horrible things,” he said. “Nowadays, everything is so intertwined and it is difficult to separate sports from politics from dirty money to pure money. The world is very confused right now. “

However, McIlroy has a luxury that many players, especially younger ones, do not: the ability to play for inheritance, not money. “It means a lot, going back to history and tradition and putting your name on trophies that carry the legends of the game,” he said. “It’s really great and it’s something you can’t buy with money.”

He doesn’t worry much about Sergio Garciaas and Lee Westwoods of the LIV Golf tour, players who were successful in the 2000s and 2010s. These players, according to McIlroy, “made their bed” and are unlikely to contribute to the future of golf.

“They themselves would tell you that their best days are behind them,” he said. “That’s why I don’t understand boys like me going, because I would like to believe that my best days are still ahead of me, and I think theirs too. So this is where you feel like you’re taking the easy way out.

McIlroy disgracefully declared the LIV “dead in the water” in February after Mickelson’s heartless comments about Saudi atrocities forced him into exile for three months. On Tuesday, McIlroy admitted he missed the mark, but pointed out what had changed between then and now.

“I have accepted many statements from the players about pure coin. I guess that’s exactly what I did wrong, “he said, referring indirectly to players like Dustin Johnson and Bryson De Chambo. “You had people involved in the PGA Tour… I took their word for it and I was wrong.”

If the rise of LIV means that McIlroy, Justin Thomas and other stars of the PGA Tour will not face the famous LIV so often, it will be a real loss for golf. McIlroy had a memorable battle with Patrick Reid of the LIV in the 2016 Ryder Cup and admired the way Johnson and DeChambo extended and expanded the game. But here, apparently, he draws a line in the sand.

“Heritage, reputation, that’s all you have at the end of the day,” McIlroy said. “You remove everything and stay with how you make people feel and what people think of you. This is important to me.”

This is a noble position. But will it be enough to influence other players tempted by tens of millions of Saudi dollars? This is the existential threat facing the PGA Tour and this is the battle that McIlroy can fight for the rest of his career.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland spoke to the media at a press conference during a pre-US training session at The Country Club on June 14, 2022 in Brooklyn, Massachusetts. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins / Getty Images)

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Connect with Jay Busbee at [email protected] or on Twitter at @jaybusbee.

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