Rory McIlroy delivers potentially fatal blow to Premier Golf League

Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy has delivered a potentially fatal blow to the proposed Premier Golf League by ruling himself out of joining a breakaway circuit.

Under the proposals outlined in January by the World Golf Group, 48 players would compete in an 18-event season offering a total prize fund of USD 240million (£183m).

The tournaments would be 54 holes rather than the traditional 72 and there would be an individual and team league format, with the weekly individual winner claiming USD 2million (£1.5m) of the USD10million (£7.5m) purse.

To have any chance of success, the PGL would need to have the likes of world number one McIlroy and Tiger Woods among its players.

However, as well as ruling himself out, McIlroy also believes Woods would not be interested in committing to play so many events.

“The more I’ve thought about it the more I don’t like it,” McIlroy told reporters in a press conference ahead of the WGC-Mexico Championship. “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.

“This (week) is a perfect example. Some guys this week made the choice not to come to Mexico. If you go and play in this other golf league you’re not going to have that choice.

“I read a thing the other day that 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.

“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 I would give that up by going to play this other league. For me, I’m out.”

McIlroy acknowledges that he may have to change his stance if he is the only player against the league, but feels opinion is currently “very split” between the game’s star names.

Rory McIlroy has ruled himself out of the breakaway concept (Getty)

“My position is I’m against it until there may come a day when I can’t be against it,” the four-time major winner added. “If everyone else goes I might not have a choice but at this point I don’t like what they’re proposing.

“Tiger’s 44, he’s got two young kids. He’s openly said last week he wants to play 12 times a year, this league’s proposing 18 so he’s not going to do it.”

The concept of a “World Golf Tour” has been around for more than 20 years, with former world number one Greg Norman unveiling his plans in 1994 but failing to gain any traction.

“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,” McIlroy added.

“Money’s cheap, money’s the easy part. It shouldn’t be the driving factor. For some people it is and we’re professional golfers and we’re out here playing golf to make a living, but at the end of the day I value my freedom and my autonomy over everything else.

“I value a lot of other things over money and that’s my stance on it at this point.”

PA