For many, Rory McIlroy was the face of the anti-LIV movement on the PGA Tour. More than most of his peers McIlroy was willing to publicly fight back against the constant stream of slander the LIV folks were sending the PGA's way. His disgust for the golfers who defected appeared genuine. Thus, there was great interest in seeing how McIlroy would react to the PGA-LIV merger.
The Northern Irish golfer was radio silent on Tuesday when the news broke. On Wednesday, he had an interview scheduled following a nine hole pro-am he was playing and the world finally knew his thoughts.
Anybody hoping for McIlroy to come out firing against Jay Monahan and the Tour for becoming the very thing they swore to destroy will be disappointed. McIlroy instead went the other direction and defended the move as the best thing for golf in the long-term. This includes a defense of Monahan as the right man to lead golf into its new future.
McIlroy also took the opportunity to set the record straight on what he felt were some misconceptions regarding the deal. Specifically the idea that LIV will continue to exist. Because it will not, they all have to answer to Monahan now, he still hates LIV, and there are no plans to welcome back all the golfers from that side with open arms.
More than anything the former US Open champion sounded resigned about the idea that foreign money will be invested in the game no matter what so it's better to control it where they can.
McIlroy's good soldier act fell apart at one point, though, when he complained about being sent up to the mic as a sacrificial lamb. A weird thing to complain about as he continually gives soundbite after soundbite one would expect to come from such a sacrificial lamb.
McIlroy also received a question about the players near the bottom of the Tour who will now be even more hard-pressed to keep their cards with the influx of new golfers coming from the deal (once they work out how the LIV guys will return, that is). His answer left something to be desired.
Pair that quote with the report from yesterday's players' meeting with Monahan that McIlroy told the 227th-ranked player in the world to "play better" if he was mad about the merger, and a picture is painted of a different McIlroy than the one who was lauded for standing up to LIV.
I guess it shouldn't come across as a surprise. It still feels bad to realize that McIlroy apparently feels just like Monahan, willing to take the high moral ground when it suited him best, but quick to abandon it when the wind changes. He could not have stopped this deal, of course, and it may feel that any objection to a deal already done is more performative than impactful. It does makes one wonder how he stands to benefit since the whole deal is about those up top winning big while everybody else is forced to stand by and watch.
He's playing the part of a good soldier, and it's just disappointing to watch Rory of all people go quietly into the night.