Sorry, but I’m obligated not to take it easy on Rory McIlroy

Golf is a sport known for its etiquette and sportsmanship, but let’s be honest, it’s so much more entertaining when there’s some pettiness involved. From rivalries in the Ryder Cup to players getting frustrated about pace of play, the game becomes infinitely more captivating when there’s a clearly defined villain for fans to collectively hate. And that’s exactly what the past year-plus in golf has given us – great television.

However, the impending merger between the Saudi Public Investment Fund and the PGA Tour is threatening to homogenize the callousness of “businessmen” across the leaderboard. The latest golfer to seemingly roll over and join the LIV Golf movement is none other than Rory McIlroy, who was one of the most vocal critics of the breakaway league.

In a recent podcast interview with Gary Neville, McIlroy admitted that he may have been too quick to judge those who decided to join LIV Golf. He acknowledged that not everyone is in the same position as him or Tiger Woods, and that people have different priorities and motivations.

For those of us who were hoping that McIlroy would stay strong and continue to be petty, his reversal is disappointing but not surprising. When a supposed ally like Jon Rahm becomes a $600-million bargaining chip, it’s hard to blame them for changing their tune. McIlroy even called Rahm’s move opportunistic but understandable, given his talent and the lack of risk involved.

But is McIlroy’s change of heart genuine, or is he simply saving face because he’s about to share a locker room with the very same players he’s been criticizing for the past 16 months? It’s hard to say for sure, but his acceptance of the situation feels like the final stage of grieving. He acknowledges that this is now a part of the sport and that he can’t change people’s minds.

While McIlroy’s comments may be pragmatic, they also come across as defeatist. To say that you’re not going to do what’s right because it won’t make a difference is a defeatist attitude that we should all strive to avoid. Even on a smaller scale, with less exposure and financial gain, it’s important to fight for what’s right and not give in to the pressures of a flawed system.

Phil Mickelson, another prominent golfer, defended McIlroy’s remarks and urged fans not to pile on. He called for a positive future and letting go of hostilities. However, his plea falls flat when you consider the larger implications of the Saudi merger, including the human rights abuses and the suppression of freedom in the country.

In the end, it’s hard not to feel disappointed in McIlroy’s reversal. While golf may be just a game, it reflects larger societal issues, and the decisions made by players have real-world consequences. It’s important to hold athletes accountable for their actions and not simply brush off their choices as part of the game.

So, screw you, Rory. Your acceptance of the situation may be pragmatic, but it’s also a disheartening surrender to the forces of greed and power. Golf is more fun when there’s some pettiness involved, but it’s even better when players take a stand and fight for what’s right.

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