The new Netflix golf series Full Swing will air on February 15, and will lift the lid on an explosive year of drama on the PGA Tour amid the emergence of LIV Golf
Rory McIlroy is shown mocking LIV rebels Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson in the new Netflix golf series – after admitting he had got “too personal” in golf’s civil war.
The world No.1 plays a starring role in Full Swing – golf’s answer to Formula One’s ratings hit Drive to Survive. The eight-part documentary series covered the most controversial year in the history of the sport with the Saudi-back breakaway league starting in June – and the repercussions rumbling on all year.
Along with Tiger Woods, McIlroy emerged as one of the biggest critics of LIV Golf and helped negotiate big-money changes to the PGA Tour. The Ulsterman has also become embroiled in a running feud with LIV commissioner Greg Norman – and he clashed with Reed in Dubai last month.
The final episode “Everything Has Led To This” charts the end of the regular season from his heart-breaking defeat at the 150th Open to his $18m win at the Tour Championships. And the Netflix cameras captured McIlroy discussing the numbers of defectors to LIV – and laughing about Reed on the driving range at East Lake when a journalist said that the former Masters champion, suspended from the PGA Tour, had played on the Asian Tour.
“And dropped spots on the world rankings,” McIlroy laughed. “Beautiful!” Later in the physio room, McIlroy was discussing American football and was told Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was a PGA Tour fan. The four-time Major winner said: “Yeah but he’s a PM fan so I don’t know..” Another voice says: “Sounds like the guy is losing credibility!” and McIlroy joins the laughter and says: “F*** you Phil! I hope that makes it in!”
Golf Digest reports that McIlroy was initially reluctant to take part in the first series of Full Swing but agreed to star in the final episode after his anti-LIV role saw him feature prominently earlier in the series. Producers persuaded him by telling him the show would be a “platform” for his views.
Speaking about his opposition to LIV Golf at a charity breakfast in Florida, Rory McIlroy said: “It has been contentious at times and I have maybe leaned into that part a little too much and made it a little too personal in my mind. But I feel like what some people have done has affected the rest of the profession. So I am just trying to defend what I think is right.”
There was a great insight into the power and influence that McIlroy, a member of the PGA Tour board, now has on the sport came after commissioner Jay Monahan announced 12 elevated and compulsory events on the Tour. At a breakfast meeting the following day, the Ulsterman told PGA official Andy Pazder: “About the mandatory there was a lot of blowback from the guys in the room. There were kinda blindsided by it. That is the feeling. But we knew there were going to be four extra elevated events but we didn’t know anything about them being mandatory. I said If I’m willing to do this, so should you.
“But I said to these guys: No other athletes in the world get to choose where and when they play. We have all just got a little bit soft. We are getting there. Yesterday was a big step.”
Before starting the season-ending event, McIlroy said: “I think the position I have sorta taken this year, my message is legitimate anyway. But I think winning gives it a little more substance and I think the FedEx Cup is a really good chance for me.”
The world No.1 embraced his caddie Harry Diamond after his stunning comeback win in Atlanta and said: “F***, we did it!”
He added: “It has been a weird year. I never thought I would be in this position. I guess for me I have to remember the reason I am in this position is that I win golf tournaments.And that is still the most important thing.”
Intimate footage shot in the locker-room afterwards showed McIlroy reading messages of congratulations on his phone from Woods: “He is always the first Tiger,” he said. “Always. He will text you, like, before the last putt drops. Always the first. Unreal.” Earlier in the year, McIlroy was asked how he would introduce his children to golf. He laughed: “I was watching golf last week and Poppy turned around and said: ‘I don’t like golf’. I was like; ‘What! See everything around you, all because of golf!”