Rory McIlroy feels the new elevated events announced by the PGA Tour will benefit the tour in the future and isn’t just exclusive to the current top players in the game. McIlroy believes the new structure allows younger developing players to play their way into the elevated events.
McIlroy addressed the media ahead of the Tour Championship where he is bidding for a hat trick of FedEx Cup titles – the first to do so – while he fielded questions following PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan’s announcement that the top players in the game will commit to at least 20 PGA Tour events next season.
“Anyone has a chance to play their way into these elevated events, anyone has a chance to feature in the Player Impact Program,” said McIlroy in response to a question on whether the new changes favour popularity over meritocracy. “Like that’s the thing, the reason that we’re trying to do this is we’re trying to build a tour for the future young ambitious players that want to be the best players in the game.
“If you want to be the best player in the game, the PGA Tour is where you want to be because it is a pure meritocracy. There’s nothing stopping guys from playing in these elevated events. There’s nothing from stopping guys getting in the PIP. You just play better. You work your ass off, you play better. And if you do that, you will get into these events. And that’s that’s as simple as it is.
“Everyone has the same opportunity – everyone starts the week at even par apart from this week. And everyone has the same opportunity at the start of every week to make something of themselves and to compete. And that’s the beautiful thing about this tour.”
The four-time major champion has become the unofficial PGA Tour spokesperson in the face of the threat of LIV while eyebrows were raised when he headlined a players meeting – in the absence of Monahan and alongside Tiger Woods -though he feels the results of that meeting coupled with the announcement will make the PGA Tour more compelling for fans and players alike.
“I think I saw a stat yesterday that apart from the major championships and maybe THE PLAYERS, the top 10 players, top 20 players in the world get together to play against each other one other time during the year. I think if you’re trying to sell a product to TV and to sponsors and to try to get as many eyeballs on professional golf as possible, you need to at least let people know what they’re tuning in for.,” he said.
“When I tune into a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game I expect to see Tom Brady throw a football. When I tune into a Formula 1 race I expect to see Lewis Hamilton in a car.
“Sometimes what’s happened on the PGA TOUR is we all act independently and we sort of have our own schedules, and that means that we never really get together all that often.
“I think what came out of the meeting last week and what Jay just was up here announcing is the fact that we’ve all made a commitment to get together more often to make the product more compelling.”
Controversially, the new changes proposed by the PGA Tour align with Phil Mickelson’s initial calls before he joined Greg Norman at LIV Golf but McIlroy was in no mood to share credit with the disgraced left-hander who is 42-over-par since returning from his hiatus.
“Yeah, as much as I probably don’t want to give Phil any sort of credit at all, yeah, there were certain points that he was trying to make. But there’s a way to go about them. There’s a way to collaborate. There’s a way — you get all the top players in the world together and you get them on the same page. You then go to the TOUR and you suggest ideas and you work together. This was pure collaboration.
“As I said, this isn’t some sort of renegade group trying to take some sort of power grab of the PGA TOUR. This is, okay, how can we make this TOUR better for everyone that’s going to play on it now and everyone that’s going to play on the PGA TOUR going forward.
“Were some of these ideas, did they have merit? Of course they did. But he just didn’t approach it the right way.”
The press conference broke away briefly to introduce Mike McCarley, founder and CEO of TMRW Sports which is a company headlined by Tiger Woods and McIlroy.
The new TGL has promised a stadium style golf event on Monday nights which will include 15 Monday night matches in a 3v3 team competition.
18 players will play with six teams of three for two hours beginning January 24th.
English Premier League fans will be familiar with Monday Night Football or MNF on Sky Sports and will appreciate what compelling viewing the pre-match and post-match analysis are and McIlroy is fully behind the idea of MNG which will broaden the PGA Tour’s horizons and engage a new audience.
“Yeah, couldn’t be more excited to partner with Tiger and Mike on this project. As Mike said, we’ve been working on this for two years. I think when someone comes to you and says, I’ve got something to show you, I think it’ll be really cool, it’ll enhance the fan experience, it’ll be additive and complementary to the PGA TOUR season, oh, and by the way, Tiger Woods is involved, it’s like, yeah, I think that would be pretty cool.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for PGA TOUR players to show a different side of themselves primetime on Monday night. I think it’s great for brand exposure to try to engage a different audience. We’ve all heard about the fact of how old the golf audience is, trying to get younger eyeballs on to it.
“I just think it’s going to be a really cool concept. Tiger and I are incredibly excited. We shared this vision with the room of players last week in Wilmington. Some of those players were already involved.
“It’s just, I guess, another prong to what the PGA TOUR are trying to do to push the TOUR forward, and there was so much excitement in the room with that, as well.
“It’ll be partly owned by the players, this league, so players can get equity in this league, as well.
“It’s awesome. I think it’s great for everyone involved, fans, TV, players, the TOUR in general. Yeah, couldn’t be more excited to get going,” he concluded.