Mark James tells how McIlroy has done an incredible job to lead from the front against Saudi-backed Tour and insists it won’t be long before warring players are able to line-up up together for Europe or USA

Ryder Cup hero also says:

  • Trust Monahan to have got a good deal for golf
  • I hear the sports washing argument but western involvement can change Saudi Arabia
  • Fans will get bored giving LIV stars the needle

Rory and Tiger putting themselves out there could have helped save the PGA Tour

MJ: “Rory and Tiger did an amazing job. I think they put their case very eloquently. They made a lot of sense. I think what they’ve done for the PGA Tour has been brilliant. No question about that so I think there will be disappointment from them and from others that these players are coming back to the tour.

“It takes a lot out of you, no question. It’s constant press interviews, constantly the same questions, and I think Rory’s done an amazing job. At the age of 34, I think he’s been absolutely incredible. And Tiger as well.

“They should be very proud of what they’ve tried to do for the Tour. Until we know the deal, we don’t know how much leverage the performance of Rory and Tiger has given the main tours. Their resolve in keeping players on the main tours has been a huge crowbar in levering out a deal with PIF.”

Rory standing up hasn’t cost him success – he’s still performing at the top level

MJ: “Well, to be honest, for the last few years, he’s been maintaining a very, very high standard of play, and not winning majors so I wouldn’t say right now there’s been much difference. That brings up a different set of questions as to why Rory hasn’t won a major since 2014.

“That’s a completely different argument. These things are what LIV has been about – arguments about different things being all bundled up and lobbed into one easy argument basket and it’s not that easy with so many issues involved and some of them are quite disparate, and they’ve all been bundled up together.”

The Saudi regime has to be held accountable – and this deal could help change behaviour

MJ: “I only really have one opinion on that and that is yes, you can argue that the Saudi regime has done certain things pretty much for certain and they should be held accountable. They need to clean up their act but I firmly believe that act can be cleaned up better with Western involvement in Saudi Arabia.

“It’s like everything about LIV. There’s two sides to every argument about LIV.

“We go back to the sports washing and then you can understand the views of someone like Amnesty International, some of the press are asking questions about it, and you can absolutely understand both points of view but that doesn’t mean you agree with it.”

Monahan isn’t from Hicksville – he’d have driven a good deal for golf

MJ: “They could but I think they can rest assured that Jay Monahan and Keith Pelley, they’re not from Hicksville, they are highly capable and respected people. To thrash out a deal is a tribute to all the parties involved. I’m assuming Greg Norman was on holiday for a few weeks too. So that the other guys could get together.”

“Greg is very divisive. I was chairman of the players committee on tour in the 90s when Greg was trying to start a World Tour. The tours headed it off at the pass by creating the WGC events and that worked extremely well. It gave the top players a chance to pay for big money and compete more often amongst themselves.

“They’ve sort of gradually petered out to some extent. I think the PGA Tour has ended up as the place where the top players play against each other more often than not and that happened because the PGA Tour made the top 50 in the early 2000s. That was a masterstroke from whoever was in charge of the tour at the time.”

“I don’t think he’ll appear too much but there’s obviously going to be LIV involvement on the tours. PIF are part of it now so he may well pop up but he’s always been a divisive figure and will continue to be so. To be honest, I think he does enjoy that type of role.”

Warring players will get over it if they are teamed up in the Ryder Cup, but it will be a difficult choice for Zach Johnson bringing LIV stars into US team.

MJ: “In the European Ryder Cup team, you need to be a member of the DP World Tour. Currently, none of the LIV players are members of the DP World. So it’s a moot point, but if they were somehow to become eligible, and I think that’s pretty much impossible, then yes, it will be difficult.

“However, the Ryder Cup is a different kettle of fish and they will get over that. I have no doubt. And there’s certainly a few months of competitive golf in all of them before that time.”

“The LIV players not being in our team is not going to make a massive amount of difference at all. I think they would have struggled. Garcia maybe would have got in but he’s not been playing great.

“I think Westwood and Poulter would have been maybe one too far. I thought it was going to affect the Americans more but a lot now depends on the peace process and whether or not those players that have been on LIV, like Dustin Johnson, are going to be accepted back into the fold and will not be a figure of some concern in amongst other places at the Ryder Cup.

“Only Zach Johnson will know that. That’s a decision he’s got to make but Koepka looks like he’ll definitely make it.”

The fans will give the needle to LIV stars at Ryder Cup – but then get bored

MJ: “Probably there will be some taunts, but there’s been a bit of that at the USPGA, a few shouts and jeers at Koepka and other players, but they just shrug it off and ultimately, the fans get bored with that and just applaud good golf.”