McIlroy defends PGA Tour changes but LIV rebels are quick to mock

  • Schedule in 2024 will include some events with no cut
  • Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood take aim at move

Rory McIlroy has defended the imminent arrival of limited fields and no cuts in high-profile PGA Tour events, as LIV rebels ridiculed the prospect on social media.

The major criticism of the breakaway LIV tour has surrounded the perceived lack of jeopardy, given set 48-man fields and the failure to implement a cut system. It has now emerged that the PGA Tour’s 2024 schedule will include fields between 70 and 80 and the guarantee of players surviving for all 72 holes at designated events.

LIV’s Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter were the most vocal about the PGA Tour’s changes. “Sounds very similar to another product that’s been spoken so badly about by media and commentators,” Poulter said. “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Congratulations PGA Tour. Welcome to the future,” the official LIV Twitter account said. Westwood tweeted: “I’ve spent the last year reading how good full fields and cuts are.”

McIlroy stressed the number of tournaments with no cuts is “to be determined”, but he favours the concept. “We’ve always had no-cut events on this Tour,” he said. “If you think of the four World Golf Championships, the three playoffs events, the CJ Cup, the Zozo. So there’s precedent there. The only reason no-cut events are a big deal is because LIV has come along.

“There’s been no-cut events since I’ve been a member of the Tour and way beyond that as well. Is there going to be a few more of them? Maybe. It keeps the stars there for four days. You ask Mastercard or whoever it is to pay $20m for a golf event, they want to see the stars at the weekend. They want a guarantee the stars are there.

“At the end of the day we’re selling a product to people. The more clarity they have on that product and knowing what they’re buying is really important.”

McIlroy, speaking in the leadup to the Arnold Palmer Invitational that starts on Thursday, said a tour aspiration has to involve “the top guys versus the hot guys”.

I’ve spent the last year reading how good full fields and cuts are! 👀

— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) March 1, 2023

In a bulletin sent on Wednesday to players and obtained by the Guardian, the PGA Tour’s commissioner, Jay Monahan, said: “These smaller, designated event fields will not only deliver substantial, can’t-miss tournaments to our fans at important intervals throughout the season, but they will also enhance the quality of full field events.” Monahan will address his membership on Tuesday morning at the Players Championship.

Max Homa, the world No 8, said LIV has partly shaped the direction of the PGA Tour. “It does seem like the emergence of LIV forced us as players and the executives of the PGA Tour to just look at their product.

“I don’t think we would be here this soon without LIV, but I would hope at some point we would have looked at this and said, hey, there might be a better way to do it.”

Contributor

Ewan Murray at Bay Hill

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