LA JOLLA, Calif. — After posting a five-under 67 to get within two shots of Jon Rahm’s lead ahead of Sunday’s final round of the Farmers Insurance Open, Rory McIlroy offered the most detailed player response thus far to a story that’s been bubbling all week.
McIlroy was asked about the Premier Golf League, a potential competitor to the PGA Tour that seems to be moving closer to an official launch. Details of the startup entity are still emerging, but according to a report from Golf Channel’s Geoff Shackelford, it would feature an 18-event schedule from January to September, 48-man fields and big-money payouts.
“Those guys have been talking to a few of us for six years,” McIlroy said on Saturday. “They approached me at the end of 2014.
“You know, it’s a hard one. … I love the PGA Tour, but these guys have exploited a couple of holes in the system, the way golf at the highest level is nowadays and how it’s sort of transitioned from a competition tour to entertainment. Right? It’s on TV, it’s people coming out to watch. It’s definitely a different time than what it was before.”
“But I love the PGA Tour, I love the way golf is set up right now,” McIlroy said. It should be noted that McIlroy won the PGA Tour’s signature individual event, the Players Championship, and the FedEx Cup title (along with its $15 million grand prize) in 2019. “So it might be the catalyst for something a little bit different out here as well, who knows.”
The rumblings surrounding Premier Golf League have caught the attention of the PGA Tour brass, and the matter was discussed at this week’s players meeting, where tour commissioner Jay Monahan was in attendance and spoke. A potential 2022 or 2023 start date for the nascent tour has been reported, though the communications team for the Premier Golf League issued a statement saying a number of things being reported were untrue.
“I certainly wouldn’t want to lose what’s been built in the last 40 or 50 years,” McIlroy said. “Tournaments like this, tournaments like Riviera in a couple weeks’ time, everything that we have gotten to know and love over the years. I’m still quite a traditionalist, so to have that much of an upheaval in the game I don’t think is the right step forward. But I think, as I said, it might be a catalyst for some changes on this tour that can help it grow and move forward and, you know, reward the top players the way they should be, I guess.”
McIlroy wasn’t the only big-name player to comment about the potential new tour this week. “I’m curious, but I don’t know enough to talk about it,’’ Phil Mickelson said after missing the cut Friday. “I’m listening to it. I think it’s intriguing, but I just don’t know enough about it to comment publicly. I hope to learn more.”
Mark Steinberg—agent to Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas and Justin Rose, among others—also has acknowledged the new tour.
“It seems to resurface at different times,” Steinberg told GeoffShackelford.com. “It’s obviously resurfacing right now. We’ll see if they take it to the next level.”