McIlroy won't replace Simpson on board after pushback

golf08 May 2024 15:36| © AFP
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Rory McIlroy © Gallo Images

Saying the process became "pretty complicated and pretty messy," Rory McIlroy revealed on Wednesday morning that he won't be rejoining the PGA Tour policy board after all.

It was initially reported last month that Webb Simpson submitted his resignation as a player director with an "explicit request" that McIlroy fill his seat.

McIlroy himself had stepped away from the board last November but showed a desire to return.

McIlroy's return, however, was subject to a vote. It was unclear whether that vote was actually held, but the Northern Irishman admitted he was met with resistance by some on the board.

"It got pretty complicated and pretty messy and I think with the way it happened, I think it opened up some old wounds and scar tissue from things that have happened before," McIlroy told reporters in Charlotte, North Carolina., the day before the Wells Fargo Championship begins.

Golfweek reported on Tuesday that Simpson will complete the remainder of his term on the board, which Simpson confirmed on Wednesday.

The tensions come at a pivotal time in the tour's history as it continues to negotiate with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund amid a civil war with LIV Golf.

"I think there was – there was a subset of people on the board that were maybe uncomfortable with me coming back on for some reason," McIlroy said.

"I think the best course of action is if, you know, there's some people on there that aren't comfortable with me coming back on, then I think Webb just stays on and sees out his term, and I think he's gotten to a place where he's comfortable with doing that and I just sort of keep doing what I'm doing.

"So yeah, I put my hand up to help and it was – I wouldn't say it was rejected, it was a complicated process to get through to put me back on there. So that's all fine, no hard feelings and we'll all move on."

McIlroy said last month the lack of progress in a deal with the PIF had motivated him to jump back in the fray, "but only if people want me involved, I guess."


On Wednesday he said he remains optimistic, and that Simpson has "got a really balanced voice in all of this and I think he sees the bigger picture."

"My fear was if Webb stepped off and it wasn't me that was going in his place, what could potentially happen," McIlroy said.

"Yeah, I'm really happy that Webb has made that decision to stay on and serve out the rest of his term."

Golfweek's report painted Patrick Cantlay at odds with McIlroy.

Cantlay is presently on the board and would have had a vote on McIlroy's return.

An unnamed tournament director told Golfweek that Cantlay is against striking a deal with PIF while McIlroy is all for reunification.

"We need Rory back on the board. Had he stayed on he could've neutered Cantlay. He's the only one with the power to neuter Cantlay. We need Rory to try to keep Cantlay from ruining the tour," the tournament director said. "Webb is too nice."

Golfweek also quoted former player directors Kevin Streelman and James Hahn as being against the idea of McIlroy being hand-picked to return.

"He was very clear that it was too much for him," Streelman said. "He had business dealings, he has a kid, he wants to focus on his game. Trust me, I get it. But once you quit, you're not getting back. ... I wouldn't quit on something that you were elected to by your peers. To want back in is peculiar."

McIlroy was asked on Wednesday if he can still affect change in the tour from the outside.

"I sort of liken it to like when Northern Ireland went through the peace process in the '90s and the Good Friday Agreement, neither side was happy," McIlroy said.

"Catholics weren't happy, Protestants weren't happy, but it brought peace and then you just sort of learn to live with whatever has been negotiated, right? ...

"That's sort of how I – it's my little I guess way of trying to think about it and trying to make both sides see that there could be a compromise here. Yeah, it's probably not going to feel great for either side, but if it's a place where the game of golf starts to thrive again and we can all get back together, then I think that's ultimately a really good thing."