Sources: Rory McIlroy set to return to PGA Tour policy board

April 23, 2024, 7:49 AM

Four-time major championship winner Rory McIlroy is poised to return to the PGA Tour's policy board, pending a vote by the board, which could come as early as this week, sources confirmed to ESPN on Tuesday.

One of the PGA Tour's most vocal supporters during its three-year battle with LIV Golf, McIlroy abruptly resigned as a player director on the tour's influential policy board in November. 

He is expected to replace policy board player director Webb Simpson, who intends to step away before his two-year term expires in 2025.

McIlroy's potential return comes at a time when the PGA Tour is attempting to negotiate a final agreement with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which is financing the rival LIV Golf League.

McIlroy, the No. 2 golfer in the world, previously joined the tour's policy board in 2022 and was expected to serve through 2024. He cited personal and professional commitments in making his decision to leave the board in November.

With players from both sides bickering about money and what the sport's future should be, TV ratings for PGA Tour events are down about 20% this season. Even the Masters, the first major championship of the season, wasn't immune from golf fans' fatigue. TV ratings for the final round at Augusta National Golf Club earlier this month (9.58 million viewers) were the lowest since 2021 (9.45 million).

"I know this isn't a be-all, end-all, but if you look at the TV ratings of the PGA Tour this year, they're down 20% across the board," McIlroy said at the Valero Texas Open this month. "That's a fifth. That's big. I would say the numbers on LIV aren't great either in terms of the people tuning in.

"I just think with the fighting and everything that's went on over the past couple years, people are just getting really fatigued of it and it's turning people off men's professional golf, and that's not a good thing for anyone."

McIlroy, 34, would also join the board of directors of PGA Tour Enterprises, the for-profit entity the tour launched with Strategic Sports Group earlier this year. The other six player directors from the tour's policy board --  Patrick Cantlay, Peter Malnati, Adam Scott, Simpson, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods -- are serving simultaneously on both boards. Former tour member Joe Ogilvie was added as a board liaison.

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.

"I think I've said this before, I have spent time with Yasir and his -- the people that have represented him in LIV I think have done him a disservice, so [LIV Golf CEO Greg] Norman and those guys," McIlroy said at the Players Championship in March.

"I see the two entities, and I think there's a big, I actually think there's a really big disconnect between PIF and LIV. I think you got PIF over here and LIV are sort of over here doing their own thing. So the closer that we can get to Yasir, PIF and hopefully finalize that investment, I think that will be a really good thing."

The Guardian of London first reported McIlroy's potential return to the PGA Tour policy board.

McIlroy is competing in this week's Zurich Classic of New Orleans team event with Ireland's Shane Lowry.