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Rory McIlroy has abruptly stepped down from the PGA Tour’s Policy Board in a shock move as the American circuit continues negotiations with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

McIlroy has been tight-lipped on the PGA Tour’s future in recent months after describing himself as a “sacrificial lamb” when the Framework Agreement with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) was announced in June.

He did not disclose his decision in Tuesday’s press conference in Dubai ahead of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

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But in a memo issued to players by PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, it was revealed that McIlroy had immediately resigned after an unprecedented period of turbulence during his time at the top table.

“Rory’s resignation letter, which he sent to the full board, clearly stated that the difficult decision was made due to professional and personal commitments,” Monahan wrote.

He added: “Rory’s insight has been instrumental in helping shape the success of the tour, and his willingness to thoughtfully voice his opinions has been especially impactful.

“Given the extraordinary time and effort that Rory – and all of his fellow player directors – have invested in the tour during this unprecedented, transformational period in our history, we certainly understand and respect his decision to step down in order to focus on his game and his family.”

McIlroy, the most prominent critic of PIF-backed LIV Golf and its disruptive emergence in the men’s professional game, has walked away after serving on the Player Advisory Council between 2019 and 2021 and two more years as a player director on the board.

And while the Northern Irishman had not given indication he was about to resign, his response to being asked whether he has enjoyed his time in the boardroom during this tumultuous spell was telling.

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“Not particularly, no,” he said. “Not what I signed for whenever I went on the board. But yeah, the game of professional golf has been in flux for the last two years.”

McIlroy said in Dubai that progress is being made on Framework Agreement negotiations, but stressed the importance of secrecy as the PGA Tour also seeks other minority private investment.

“I think if you were in the middle of it, you would see that there’s a path forward,” he said. 

“It’s just that no one on the outside has any details. Loose lips sink ships, so we are trying to keep it tight and within walls. I’m sure when there’s news to tell, it will be told.”

Reacting to the news, Masters champion Jon Rahm categorically ruled out replacing McIlroy on the Policy Board.

“You won’t see me there,” Rahm said. “Absolutely no chance. I’ve been asked a couple times if I have any interest, and I’m not going to spend, I don’t know how many meetings they have, but they are six, seven, hour plus long.

“As regards to Rory, he’s obviously been put in a situation where a lot has been expected of him, and I don’t know the exact reason why he left the board.

“But I certainly wouldn’t blame somebody like him to just want to focus a bit more on his game and his family and enjoy the bit of time he’s truly earned. Again, it’s a big commitment for somebody to be part of it.”

McIlroy is yet to publicly comment on his resignation.

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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