Rory McIlroy believes golf's rule changes will ease complications
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 04/01/19 3:27am
Rory McIlroy has welcomed the widespread changes to the Rules of Golf and believes they will be easier to interpret at all levels of the game.
Ahead of his debut at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, McIlroy admitted some of the changes will take time to get used to, but he praised the golfing authorities for making many rules "less complicated".
Among the most significant alterations are being able to putt without having the flagstick removed, while drops can now be taken from knee height rather than shoulder height, although McIlroy conceded this will be a bigger advantage for the shorter pros on Tour.
"It might help pace of play a little bit," said McIlroy, who qualified for the PGA Tour winners-only event on the back of his thrilling victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March - his only worldwide title since the 2016 Tour Championship.
"I think it's going to be very strange for guys to tap down spike marks, and to tap in with the pin still in. There's going to be a few things that are strange, like practising your drops from your knees.
"We're saying that Brian Harman has got a big advantage because he can basically place it! But you've also got someone like Tony Finau who is dropping it probably from like waist high for me.
"But I think that they're trying to simplify the rules which I think is a great thing for the game. I've always said that the rules of golf are way too complicated, especially after the debacles and farces we have had at US Opens and all sorts of stuff over the last few years.
Golf's new rules for 2019
The Rules of Golf have undergone a significant overhaul with many new regulations coming into effect from January 1, 2019.
"So I'm happy that they made the decision to try and simplify them and just try to make everything a little bit easier to understand."
McIlroy also reiterated his plans to focus more on the PGA Tour this year having made the US his permanent home in 2018, and he hinted that he would not be playing many events in Europe in a bid to cut down on his travel.
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The four-time major champion was reported to have met European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley in December following his comments that he would not be playing enough tournaments to retain his European Tour membership this year.
And, earlier this week, McIlroy was quoted by Associated Press as describing the European Tour as a "stepping stone" for the PGA Tour, where there are more world ranking points and prize money up for grabs on a weekly basis.
Asked about his scheduling plans for 2019, he added: "Taking up residence in the US last year, being a permanent resident, I made the decision that this is where my life is going to be, this is where I'm going to live.
"I think all the guys are trying to reduce their travel as much as possible. Having to hop back and forth from the States to Europe and back again, there's not a lot of that going on, which is a good thing.
"My focus has always been the biggest events in the world since I got into that world top 50, but then even more so now just because of wanting to travel less and wanting to spend more time at home when I can be at home and that's sort of the reason."
The many changes to the PGA Tour schedule this year have also forced McIlroy to reconsider his plans, and he added: "There are some events that I have played regularly in the past that I'm going to have to sit out. If I play those events, potentially I could play 11 out of 13 weeks, which is a lot of golf and it's too much for me.
"I know by that fifth or sixth week I'm going to hate the game and I'm going to need to take a break. So there's probably going to be a few events that I'm trying to play the week before majors, that's something that can really benefit you.
"So I'm trying to do that. As I said, maybe a couple of extra starts early in the PGA Tour season, but after that it will be pretty similar to what it has been, I think."