The No. 1 player in the United States, the No. 1 player in Europe and the No. 1 player in the world, it has been quite the year for Rory McIlroy. After being crowned the PGA Tour’ s top player with a third FedEx Cup win in the summer, McIlroy followed this by also taking the DP World Tour’s seasonal crown for a fourth time last Sunday.
In between his Tour titles, the Northern Irishman also made a return to the top of the world rankings to further assert his dominance on the sport. McIlroy’s thrown at the top of the golfing globe has not only been secured on the course though.
Away from the fairways the four-time major champion has also acclaimed the role of golf’s moral compass amid a turbulent time for the sport.
2022 has proved to be a year like no other in golf, after the emergence of the controversial LIV Golf Series. Whether you are a fan of the Saudi-backed series or not, Greg Norman’s new-found venture is seemingly here to stay.
The morality surrounding LIV’s formation has been the main question mark surrounding the breakaway circuit, with its funding coming from the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia – a country known for its dismal human rights record.
These controversies were even outlined by one of LIV’s star men in Phil Mickelson. Mickelson gave a damning assessment of his decision to join LIV Golf, admitting the Saudis were in fact ‘scary mother f*****s’ highlighting the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi as evidence.
The American star’s drastic downfall though came just a few words later, as he seemingly insinuated he was willing to look past the atrocities in order to gain leverage over his new found foe the PGA Tour. The true colours of many of golf’s big names – including Mickelson – have no doubt come out following the saga.
For McIlroy though, they could not have come out brighter. The Northern Irishman has always come across as one of golf’s good guys, and 2022 has seemingly optimised this more than ever.
With LIV looking to poach golf’s biggest names, McIlroy – alongside his ally and business partner Tiger Woods – was not doubt at the top of Greg Norman’s list. The bigger the name the bigger the signing on fee it seemed, with Mickelson and Dustin Johnson two of the Saudi-backed series’ biggest earners.
According to reports, the offer on the table for McIlroy was said to be over the £400 million mark but it transpired that no amount of money was enough for the Northern Irishman to trade in golf’s long-standing and respected and traditions in exchange to be part of latest cog of Saudi Arabia’s sportswashing machine.