Rory McIlroy on Premier Golf League: 'I don't like what they're proposing'
"The more I've thought about it, the more I don't like it. For me, I'm out, I don't like what they're proposing."
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 20/02/20 10:26am
Rory McIlroy has delivered a damning verdict on the proposals for a Premier Golf League and declared: "I'm out".
The World Golf Group, believed to be heavily financed by Saudi investors, announced plans last month for an elite golf tour comprising 18 tournaments, each over three rounds instead of the traditional four, with a $2m prize for each winner.
McIlroy was initially sceptical when first asked about the proposals during the Farmers Insurance Open, when he also admitted he had first been approached to discuss a "breakaway" tour towards the end of the 2014 season.
But, having had more time to think about the ambitious plans, the world No 1 has ruled himself out of joining the Premier Golf League, insisting he wished to retain his "autonomy and freedom" when planning a schedule.
"The more I've thought about it, the more I don't like it," said McIlroy ahead of this week's WGC-Mexico Championship, the first World Golf Championship event of the year that has been hit by the withdrawals of four of the world's top 12 players including Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka.
"The one thing as a professional golfer in my position that I value is the fact that I have autonomy and freedom over everything that I do. I pick and choose, and this is a perfect example. Some guys this week made the choice to not come to Mexico, but if you go and play this other golf league, you're not going to have that choice.
"I read a thing the other day where it said if you take the money they can tell you what to do, so if you don't take the money, they can't tell you what to do. And I think that's my thing, I've never been one for being told what to do, and I like to have that autonomy and freedom over my career, and I feel like I would give that up by going to play this other league.
"For me, I'm out. My position is I'm against it until there may come a day that I can't be against it. If everyone else goes, I might not have a choice, but at this point, yeah, I don't like what they're proposing."
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McIlroy also revealed that opinion amongst his fellow professionals on the PGL proposals was "very split", and insisted that money should not be the "driving factor" in any player's decision-making process.
Woods did not give a definitive answer on the PGA when pressed on the subject at Riviera last week, admitting that he had been personally approached to take part before adding: "My team has been aware of it and we've delved into the details of it and trying to figure it out just like everyone else."
But McIlroy has predicted that Woods would be against committing to an 18-tournament league, adding: "Tiger is 44, he's got two young kids, and he has openly said last week he wants to play 12 times a year. This league is proposing 18, so he's not going to do it.
"Right now, people are looking at it purely from a monetary standpoint. I would like to be on the right side of history with this one, just sort of as Arnold Palmer was with the whole Greg Norman thing in the '90s. Again, I value a lot of other things over money, and that's sort of my stance on it at this point."
Paul McGinley's verdict
It was very Rory. He likes to make big statements before some of the biggest tournaments in the world! He's the first big-name player who's come out publicly and said: "No, this is not for me".
He's very much endorsed the current status quo of the PGA Tour and the European Tour, and we'll just have to wait and see if this Premier Golf League is still going to launch.
What will be interesting now is who's going to follow him? Where does it go from here? Rory has also talked about the prospect of the PGL forcing some changes at the elite level of professional golf. So what did he mean by that, and what's going to happen?
So there's a lot of unknowns, but it is significant that a big-name player with the stature of Rory McIlroy has said this is not for him.