Rory McIlroy is back involved in talks between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf backer, the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund 

Rory McIlroy is back involved in talks between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf backer, the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund 

Pressure is growing on the PGA Tour to resolve its feud with LIV Golf with one of the tour’s biggest sponsors demanding that steps be taken to “stabilise professional golf”.

Mary DePaoli, the chief marketing officer for the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) – the title sponsor for the RBC Heritage and RBC Canadian Open – admitted the business is having to show a lot of “patience” with the tour as talks continue over a merger with LIV Golf’s backer, the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF).

The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and PIF announced 11 months ago that a framework agreement had been reached for the organisations to merge, paving the way for the game to be reunified after the breakaway LIV Golf launched in 2022, taking several top PGA Tour stars in the process.

But there has been limited progress since, with the finer details of a deal yet to be hammered out despite numerous deadlines being passed. World number two Rory McIlroy has since returned to the negotiating table to help find a solution, joining forces with Tiger Woods and Adam Scott on a transaction committee that hopes to seal an investment deal with PIF.

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DePaoli says RBC has a very similar view to alienated fans who have been left frustrated by the politics and financial wrangling that have dominated the discourse in professional golf over the past two years, calling for a solution to be found quickly.

“I think we’re probably all feeling the same,” DePaoli at a media day ahead of the Canadian Open later this month. “We’re all experiencing this, whether it’s as a sponsor or a fan or the players. We are all watching the PGA Tour, right now, try to sort through a business model that has been under some significant strain, and has still not fully resolved itself. And that’s still to be determined. So, it’s requiring a lot of patience.

“It’s going to be really important for us to see the Tour stabilise professional men’s golf. I’ve used the analogy, it’s like they’re flying the plane and building it at the same time. It’s probably not too far off. But I think if some of these outstanding questions can resolve themselves – in the short or the medium term – and we can start to put some of the static and – you know – kind of changes that a lot of people were not too pleased with behind us, hopefully they can get professional men’s golf back on track and growing in a very positive direction again.”

McIlroy, who sits in second place at the Wells Fargo Championship heading into round three on Saturday, revealed he was part of a lengthy Zoom call with Woods, Scott and tour bosses last weekend with the PIF negotiations on the agenda.

The Northern Irishman’s addition to the committee comes after he was blocked from rejoining the PGA Tour Policy Board this week. McIlroy initially had a seat on the policy board but resigned in November to focus on his game and personal life, but he was open to rejoining upon a request from Webb Simpson last month, who was willing to vacate his seat so McIlroy could be at the forefront of talks with PIF.

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