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How Likely is Rory McIlroy's Dream Scenario

By: | Mon 15 Jan 2024

Describing his dream scenario for the future of men's professional golf, Rory McIlroy has outlined what he believes needs to happen. For his latest View From The Fairway column, Golfshake's Derek Clements reviews what the Northern Irishman has said.

Rory McIlroy has called for the world’s best players to be contracted to play in golf’s top events as part of the game’s vision for the future. What he seems to be asking for is a world golf tour - the very thing that Greg Norman was advocating way back in the 1990s.

Talks between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund remain ongoing over the way ahead for the game, but McIlroy wants any agreement struck to bring an end to the current pick-and-choose set-up.

As things stand right now the world’s best are only guaranteed to face each other at the majors and McIlroy, like so many of us, believes the current fractured landscape is detrimental to the marketability of the sport.

He says that he is now willing to sign to play against his biggest rivals throughout the season and wants them to do the same. Perhaps I am missing something here, but I thought that was the very purpose of the PGA Tour’s signature tournaments - a series of events that are guaranteed to bring together the top 50 in the FedEx Cup standings.

McIlroy told Golf Digest: "My dream scenario is a world tour, with the proviso that corporate America has to remain a big part of it all. Saudi Arabia, too. That's just basic economics, but there is an untapped commercial opportunity out there.

"Investors always want to make a return on their money. Revenues at the PGA Tour right now are about $2.3bn. So how do we get that number up to four or six? To me, it is by looking outward. They need to think internationally and spread their wings a bit. I've been banging that drum for a while. Whether they are rotated on the new global circuit, or we go with the same ones every year, I'm OK with either.”

Rory McIlroy

(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)

McIlroy has performed some spectacular U-turns of late. When you consider just how strongly opposed he was to LIV Golf and its Saudi backers, don’t you find it just a little bit hypocritical that he is now saying he is fine with seeing further investment in the professional game from Saudi Arabia?

“When you look at different sports and how much these media companies are paying for sporting events, you have to be able to guarantee them the product that they are paying for,” said McIlroy.

“I would say that people would have to be contracted and sign up to a certain number of events every year so the sponsors and media partners know that the guys they want to be there are going to be.”

Golfers have traditionally seen themselves as independent contractors and remain free to choose when and where they tee it up. It is this very idea that led to all the controversy surrounding LIV Golf - the players who defected have all claimed that that they are individual contractors and should not be toed to the PGA Tour or DP World Tour.

The creation of elevated events on the PGA Tour with huge prize pots has helped to bring the top players together more often but McIlroy says that a contract would guarantee it.

The status quo is not only split between the establishment tours and LIV but within those tours as well.

While McIlroy started his 2024 season at the DP World Tour’s Dubai Invitational, half of his Ryder Cup teammates were playing 8,500 miles away in Hawaii at the PGA Tour’s Sony Open. And several of them have opted to give the Dubai Desert Classic a miss too.

The likes of Robert MacIntyre, Victor Perez and Alexander Bjork were all awarded PGA Tour cards as a result of their fine performances on the DP World Tour last year. They would love to pick and choose the events in which they play in the way that McIlroy can, but all three are outside the top 50 in the world rankings and have opted to play in America because there are more ranking points on offer there, giving them a greater chance of getting into the top 50 and this being able to play in the majors.

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Tags: rory mcilroy PGA Tour LIV Golf Jon Rahm Greg Norman european tour dp world tour

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