Rory McIlroy often makes us glad golf is what he does best, that he didn’t excel on the football pitch instead. His response to the pie in the sky Premier Golf League is one of these times.
“The more I’ve thought about it, the more I don’t like it,” McIlroy said about the proposed new world tour. “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 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.
“I’ve never been one for being told what to do. 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.”
As I wrote on 28 January, without Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods there is no Premier Golf League. Even if Tiger says yes, the league is scuppered. It would be like having the Premier League without Manchester United, the NFL without the New England Patriots, the NHL without the Pittsburgh Penguins (I so wanted to write Toronto Maple Leafs).
Tiger’s participation would obviously be a huge bonus to something that purports to be the premier tour in golf but, let’s face it, he’s fast approaching his use by date. Rory is the game’s biggest marquee name after Woods, certainly outside of the USA. He’s the here and now and the PGL needs him to have any credibility.
Rory is not only acting in his own best interests, but the game’s best interests. He doesn’t always get things right, such as his “I didn’t get into golf to grow the game” line in 2016, but most of the time he does.
As Guardian golf writer Ewan Murray tweeted: “It's nice that fame and fortune doesn't always distort principles. Good on Rory McIlroy, who typically calls things right.”
Whatever your gripes about the PGA and European Tours, and there are a few, they are basically sound products that serve the professional game well. Too many people have worked hard to build up these circuits over many years. It would be a shame to see them threatened.
So, will Tiger take a similar stance to Rory? Let’s hope so. Over to you Tiger.