McIlroy Bows Out Of Joining Rival Premier Golf League

Rory McIlroy is currently the world’s #1 ranked golfer. He’s also a refreshing honest change from the typical ultra-careful pro not wanting to raise controversy. The latest is the Irishman’s blunt take on the potential rival Premier Golf League (PGL) that hopes to lure the game’s marquee talent with mountains of money. Golf Digest’s Daniel Rapaport has the details.

“The more I’ve thought about it, the more I don’t like it,” McIlroy said

McIlroy elaborated on his decision, explaining that he does not like the idea of being locked in to 18 tournaments around the world. Under the proposed rules of the PGL, all 48 players in the league would be required to play all 18 scheduled events to receive their guaranteed money, which for some players reportedly could be upwards of nine figures. Players would be allowed to play in the four major championships, but both the PGL and PGA Tour have acknowledged that players would not be able to play both circuits. It’s one of the other.

“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. And I think that’s my thing—I’ve never been one for being told what to do, and I’d like to have that autonomy and freedom over my career, and I feel like I would give that up going to play for the other league.

McIlroy did, however, acknowledge a possible scenario that leaves him no choice but to join the PGL.

“For me, I’m out. My position is I’m against it until there may come a day where I can’t be against. If everyone else goes, I might not have a choice. But at this point, I don’t like what they’re proposing.”

Asked whether he thinks everyone going is a possibility: “It’s very split at the minute, I think.”

A bigger question is if the self-imposed embargo by both Tours preventing the pros from playing both schedules teeters on anti-trust legalities. PGA Tour commish Jay Monahan has already stated that any player choosing to dabble in the PGL will lose their Tour cards. I’m not smart enough legally to know the possible ramifications, but I’m pretty sure Monahan checked with his formidable legal team before issuing the edict.

“If the Team Golf Concept or another iteration of this structure becomes a reality in 2022 or at any time before or after, our members will have to decide whether they want to continue to be a member of the PGA Tour or play on a new series,” the commissioner wrote.

Other top pros have been approached and are currently mulling the options. Some reports state that Tiger Woods has been offered $100 million to jump ship. But even him playing the 18 required tournaments plus the four majors would be too much for his ailing body to handle. Geoff Shackelford adds some possibilities:

—The PGA Tour Brand Is Strong But… Within short time, if enough players defect, “The League” or the “PGL” could become synonymous with golf. A solid 99.5% of the sports viewing public cannot tell you the difference between the PGA Tour and the PGA of America. Or who runs what major events. While Woods could be seen as a deserter and the man who left the PGA Tour in the dust, memories fade faster than ever and as strong as the PGA Tour is, as profound as their charitable efforts are ($3 billion mark passed recently) and as beloved as many tournaments have become in their community, it’s not a deal killer for Woods, and possibly Mickelson. Other players? Maybe.

One reader OWGR Fan makes a good point…

The majors could seriously hurt this proposed league. They could all band together and decree if you play in the PGL you are ineligible to play all of the majors.

Another item overlooked is the PGL is looking to get OWGR points for their events. The PGA Tour, The Euro Tour, The PGA, ANGC, The USGA, The WGC’s and the R&A were the founders of the OWGR and essentially run it. They could easily decide not to award ranking point to the PGL.

Phil Mickelson who says he’s “curious and intrigued” about the proposal, stated he’ll make his decision after the Masters.

“The whole concept of owning a team, I think that’s brilliant,” he said. “So, as you fade away as a top player [Mickelson, as a perfect example], you still own a team, like Formula 1.The whole idea of owning a team is something I wish I’d thought about in my concept. There are smart people behind this. The Raine Group, they’re Wall Street geniuses. They’re not doing this to give away money, they’re doing this to get a return on their investment.”

Bubba Watson says he isn’t going either.

One final note is where Woods’ and Mickelson’s games will be in three years (the PGL is looking to start in 2022? Star names are great, but watching their games diminish doesn’t sound all that alluring a watch.