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Rory McIlroy: Saudis couldn’t have been 'too happy' with Jordan Spieth thought

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Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth last June at the Memorial.
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Rory McIlroy says if he were the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, he wouldn’t have been “too happy” with a Jordan Spieth thought this week — and he said he told that to Spieth in an hour-long call. 
McIlroy’s comments come via a story written by Sports Illustrated’s Alex Miceli and published Friday. They follow the Wednesday announcement of a funding deal between the PGA Tour and a group of investors named the Strategic Sports Group. 
As part of that announcement, the Tour said it was also continuing conversations with the PIF, after the sides had agreed to a proposed funding deal last June. That part led to this exchange later Wednesday with Spieth, who has replaced McIlroy on the Tour’s influential Policy Board:
“Jordan,” a reporter started, “on June 6th, when they announced the framework agreement, the understanding was that it would be a possible PIF deal in that situation and they were talking $300 million or somewhere around that neighborhood. Now that you got 1.5 billion and another 1.5 billion possibly in your pocket if you guys want it [from the Strategic Sports Group], why do you need to do the PIF deal?”” 
“I don’t think that it’s needed,” Spieth said. 
“I think the positive would be a unification, but I think that, like I mentioned before, I just think it’s something that is almost not even worth talking about right this second given how timely everything would be to try to get it figured out. But the idea is that we have a strategic partner that allows the PGA Tour to go forward the way that it’s operating right now without anything else with the option of other investors. Whether them or somebody else, that will just be a decision with them obviously being, you know, the active talks.
“But I think the short answer is we don’t have to and I think the long answer is the positive there is a unification. But like I’ve mentioned earlier, we have members that feel strongly on both sides, so until that would be able to be solved and that would be No. 10 on the list of 10 things despite any government interference on what they’ve talked about being a lengthy process. You know, it would be a situation that should be — we should try to have, but I’m not sure, you know, if or how or when it would get done.”
After the press conference, according to Miceli’s story, Spieth and Mcllroy said Spieth called McIlroy, and that they talked for an hour. On Tuesday, McIlroy had expressed hope of a way for the Tour to come together with players from LIV Golf, which is backed by the PIF.
Spieth told Miceli that he wants a PIF deal that works for everyone — and not that he doesn’t want the Tour to talk with the Saudis. He said he’d also called McIlroy to see why he had taken himself off a player group text. 
McIlroy told Miceli that he was mostly agreeing with Spieth’s thoughts. But he had concerns. 
“I talked to him about his comments,” McIlroy told Miceli. “And we had a pretty frank discussion.”  
What were McIlroy’s thoughts?
“My thing was if I’m the original investor that thought that they were going to get this deal done back in July, and I’m hearing a board member say that, you know, we don’t really need them, now, how are they going to think about that, what are they gonna feel about that?” McIlroy told Miceli. 
“They are still sitting out there with hundreds of billions of dollars, if not trillions, that they’re gonna pour it into sport. And I know what Jordan was saying, I absolutely know what he was saying and what he was trying to say. But if I were PIF and I was hearing that coming from here, the day after doing this SSG deal, it wouldn’t have made me too happy, I guess?”
McIlroy also told Miceli that not having PIF as a partner is not an option “for the game of golf.” 
Editor’s note: To read Miceli’s complete story, please click here

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.
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