Rory McIlroy says Australian Open could be golf’s fifth major

Rory McIlroy has declared the Australian Open could become golf’s “fifth major” as part of a world tour which remains his “dream scenario” as officials look to create a new landscape for the sport.

Negotiations between the PGA Tour and the Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund, the backers of LIV golf who are looking to pour billions into the sport, to finalise a deal which could shape the sport’s future, remain ongoing.

McIlroy recently backtracked on his strong anti-LIV stance and has taken a more holistic view of the potential for more cash to potentially increase golf’s revenue beyond $6 billion from its current mark of just over $3 billion.

The four-time major, who defeated Adam Scott on the final hole at Royal Sydney in 2013 to win the Australian Open before returning the next year, lauded the significance of events around the world to the sport.

He said the courses in Australia are “so good” and the legacy of one the oldest national opens in golf, won by legends including jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer could be part of a world tour if officials were bold enough to take the leap.

“The Australian Open, for example, should almost be the fifth major,” McIlroy said in an interview with Golf Digest in Dubai.

“The market down there is huge with potential. They love golf. They love sport.

“They have been starved of top-level golf. And the courses are so good.

“Revenues at the PGA Tour right now are about $US2.3 billion ($A3.4 billion).

“So how do we get that number up to four or six? “It is by looking outward. They need to think internationally and spread their wings a bit.

“My dream scenario is a world tour, with the proviso that corporate America has to remain a big part of it all. But there is an untapped commercial opportunity out there.”

LIV golf has taken the leap in to Australia and its event in Adelaide in 2023 was regarded as the best ever for the fledgling tour headed up by golfing legend Greg Norman.

It could be even bigger in 2024 with the inclusion of Masters champion Jon Rahm who confirmed his big-money defection late in 2023.

McIlroy said he hoped the new landscape would provide more international opportunities,, taking events around the like “Formula One”.

“The South African Open is another I’d have in the mix. Then you have places like Singapore and Hong Kong and Japan. What a market Japan represents.

“That would be another opportunity. We could end up with something that resembles Formula One, but with a little more of an American presence.

“Throw in the four majors and you have a brilliant schedule for the top 70-100 guys, whatever the number is. We’d have, say a 22-event schedule. That would look pretty good to me.“

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