Just when it seemed like the Premier Golf League — the upstart potential competitor to the PGA and European Tours — was picking up steam and even being viewed by some an inevitability, one of golf’s biggest stars took a firm stance against the big-money enterprise.
Rory McIlroy, the current World No. 1 and undoubtedly one of the most influential professional golfers on the planet, flatly made his intentions known on Wednesday at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship.
“The more I’ve thought about it, the more I don’t like it,” McIlroy said. “The one thing as a professional golfer in my position that I value is the fact that I have autonomy and freedom over everything that I do. I pick and choose. This is a perfect example. Some guys this week made the choice to not come to Mexico. If you go and play this other golf league, you’re not going to have that choice.
“I read a thing the other day where it said if you take the money they can tell you what to do, so if you don’t take the money, they can’t tell you what to do. And I think that’s my thing, I’ve never been one for being told what to do, and I like to have that autonomy and freedom over my career, and I feel like I would give that up by going to play this other league.
“For me, I’m out. My position is I’m against it until there may come a day that I can’t be against it. If everyone else goes, I might not have a choice, but at this point, yeah, I don’t like what they’re proposing.”
It created massive attention in the space of a month, but I sense this is the start of the end for PGL’s ambitions.
To succeed it had to be ALL the big stars. Rory dipping out crushes it’s validity. pic.twitter.com/NyeS84ydh5
— Luke Elvy (@Luke_Elvy) February 19, 2020
McIlroy intimated that opinions among top pros were split, but he also made a prediction that he didn’t believe Tiger Woods would be jumping ship to the PGL either.
“Tiger is 44,” McIlroy said. “He’s got two young kids. He’s openly said last week he wants to play 12 times a year, so this league is proposing 18, so he’s not going to do it.”
McIlroy harkened back to Arnold Palmer’s stance on Greg Norman’s proposed World Tour in the 1990s.
“I would like to be on the right side of history with this one, just sort of as Arnold (Palmer) was with the whole Greg Norman thing in the ’90s,” he said. “I value a lot of other things over money, and that’s sort of my stance on it at this point.”
Podcast Ep. 278: Peter Jacobsen on the world tour, Norman’s idea, why it fell apart, his career, Payne Stewart, and a ton more.
— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) February 5, 2020
As to the resonance that McIlroy’s statements had throughout the Tour, GolfDigest.com’s Brian Wacker spoke to a few high-profile players on the grounds in Mexico City and got a gauge of what McIlroy’s comments mean to the bigger picture.
“There are only a handful of guys that carry the tour,” Matt Kuchar said. “(Rory) is one of them.”
“It’s interesting but for me, it’s not that interesting,” Bryson DeChambeau said. “If you can’t get the top guys, then what’s the point?”