Just because Rory McIlroy is “out” on the Premier Golf League — the upstart, big-money circuit that plans to offer a limited schedule and fields made up of the best players in the game — doesn’t mean that he didn’t like some of the proposed tour’s ideas.
He said as much when he made his declaration at the WGC-Mexico Championship last month, and he reiterated some of those positions on Wednesday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“Honestly, there’s so many – I mean I get playing opportunities – there’s so many tournaments and there might be an oversaturation in golf in a way,” McIlroy said. “You look at the NFL and they play 18 games a year, 20 games a year max and people want it all the time. I know football’s different than golf and all that, but I think being a golf fan these days can get quite exhausting following so many different tournaments, different tours, all that stuff.
“So maybe making it a little, sort of streamline it a bit might be a good way, a good place to start a conversation.”
— Independent Sport (@IndoSport) March 5, 2020
The PGL is presenting a proposition that includes an 18-tournament season that sounds more in line with McIlroy was hinting at on Wednesday.
“I don’t want to come across as all sort of elitist, but I think some smaller fields, maybe a few more events with no cuts (would work),” McIlroy said. “If you look at the international properties that the PGA Tour have started to go towards, like Korea, Japan, 70-player fields, no cuts.”
McIlroy’s point is grounded in fact. The time between his winning the season-long FedEx Cup and the start of the next season was all of 17 days. The oversaturation he speaks of permeates the game and threatens the supply weakening the demand, as Alistair Tait wrote.
There’s a reason the biggest events in the game draw the best players and the most eyeballs, and the rest of the rank-and-file of the PGA Tour tend to blur together. The PGL may have been onto something with its overtly tiered approach to the game, but who’s to say that those tiers aren’t already occurring naturally as players like McIlroy and others intuitively boost a tournament’s stature by their presence.
The elevated status events, such as this week at Bay Hill, the no-cut World Golf Championships, and above all, the majors, receive the biggest ratings, the best fields and the most drama because they are relatively few and far between.
Why shouldn’t the PGA Tour embrace that model?