Rory McIlroy ‘lost confidence’ over PGA Tour, LIV Golf deal after Jimmy Dunne resignation

Jimmy Dunne, one of the masterminds behind the PGA Tour’s framework agreement with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), resigned earlier this week.

As a result, Rory McIlroy believes that the future of professional golf will suffer.

“Honestly, I think it’s a huge loss for the PGA Tour if they are trying to get this deal done with the PIF and unify the game,” McIlroy said ahead of the PGA Championship.

“Jimmy was basically ‘the’ relationship, the sort of conduit between the PGA Tour and the PIF.”

Dunne, the Vice Chairman and Senior Managing Principal at Piper Sandler, a large investment bank, served on the PGA Tour Policy Board for 17 months before he stepped down Monday evening. His resignation became effective immediately.

Jimmy Dunne and Rory McIlroy on The Old Course at St. Andrews during a practice round ahead of the 2022 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

He helped initiate the discussions between the PIF and the PGA Tour, even extending himself to PIF Governor Yasir al-Rumayyan via WhatsApp.

But since helping these two sides come together and testifying before the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on Jul. 11, 2023, Dunne has barely participated in talks between the tour and the PIF.

“It’s been really unfortunate that he has not been involved for the last few months, and I think part of the reason that everything is stalling at the minute is because of that,” McIlroy said.

“So it is, it’s really, really disappointing, and I think the Tour is in a worse place because of it. We’ll see. We’ll see where it goes from here, and we’ll see what happens.”

McIlroy stepped down from the PGA Tour Policy Board in November but tried to re-join it last week. The Northern Irishman had grown impatient over the deal’s slow progress, hence his desire to lend a helping hand. But instead of joining the board, McIlroy received an invitation to join the PGA Tour Enterprises Transaction Subcommittee. That group, which includes Tiger Woods and Adam Scott, will work with key stakeholders to unite the sport again.

Rory McIlroy, PGA Championship

Rory McIlroy speaks to the media ahead of the 2024 PGA Championship.
Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Yet, Dunne, a close confidant of McIlroy’s and McIlroy’s father, Gerry, will no longer play a role—but it’s not as if he had a significant influence over the past few months either.

“I would say my confidence level on something getting done before last week was as low as it had been,” McIlroy admitted.

“Then with this news of Jimmy resigning and knowing the relationship he has with the other side, and how much warmth there is from the other side, it’s concerning.”

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan has yet to announce a replacement for Dunne, but whoever succeeds the Long Island, New York, native will undoubtedly have big shoes to fill.

Dunne holds memberships at both Augusta National and Seminole Golf Club in Florida, the latter of which he serves as president. He is a very well-connected figure within the upper echelon of golf’s power brokers and put his reputation on the line in coordinating with the Saudis.

As a result, Dunne faced tremendous media scrutiny in the summer of 2023, but now he does not have to worry about that anymore.

Instead, McIlroy worries about Dunne’s absence during one of the most important times in professional golf’s history.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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