While a staunch opponent of the LIV Golf tour, Rory McIlroy has admitted the emergence of the rebel circuit has helped players throughout the sport. The Northern Irishman believes “antiquated” elements of the PGA Tour have been updated on direct account of LIV.
The PGA Tour has announced a raft of changes for 2024, including the introduction of a number of limited‑field no-cut events. Asked how much of this alteration is down to the LIV threat, McIlroy replied: “A lot of it. I’m not going to sit here and lie. I think the emergence of LIV or the emergence of a competitor to the PGA Tour has benefited everyone that plays elite professional golf.
“I think when you’ve been the biggest golf league in the biggest market in the world for the last 60 years, there’s not a lot of incentive to innovate. This has caused a ton of innovation at the PGA Tour. What was quite, I would say, an antiquated system is being revamped to try to mirror where we’re at in the world in the 21st century with the media landscape.
“LIV coming along, it’s definitely had a massive impact on the game, but I think everyone who is a professional golfer is going to benefit from it going forward.”
McIlroy was part of a player meeting at Sawgrass on Tuesday morning as PGA Tour officials expanded on the landscape for 2024 and beyond. The $25m (£21m) Players Championship begins here on Thursday. The world No 305 James Hahn, who was publicly highly critical of the changes last week, did not attend. That irked McIlroy. “Like, you say all this shit and you’re not even in the meeting?” McIlroy said. “If you want to get informed and be a part of the process … the fact that he wasn’t even in the room was a slap in the face to everyone there.”
The four-time major winner said the gathering was less highly charged than he had anticipated. “I think when more information and data was presented to them, the people that maybe had reservations about it I think came around, or at least were more informed on their opinions,” McIlroy said.
“I think it was good for them to see that and to see what the thinking is behind what we’re really trying to do here. I think the temperature in the room was nowhere near as hot as I anticipated it to be once the information was laid out.”
Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour’s commissioner, has shrugged off any suggestion there could be a pathway back to his organisation for LIV golfers. Those individuals, including the 2022 Players champion Cameron Smith, are banned from the PGA Tour. “For some reason I’ve been hearing that a lot lately and I’m not certain where that’s coming from,” Monahan said.
“The players that are playing on that tour are contractually obligated to play on that tour. So any hypotheticals at this point really aren’t relevant. But our position has not changed.”