ROCHESTER, N.Y. — No one has been a more outspoken proponent of the PGA Tour than Rory McIlroy during its ongoing battle with the LIV Golf League.
But it seems that McIlroy, a four-time major champion, is done talking about LIV Golf.
During a news conference ahead of this week’s PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club on Tuesday, McIlroy was asked by a reporter to look into his crystal ball to project where professional men’s golf will be in three years.
“I don’t have a crystal ball,” McIlroy said.
“You don’t want to speculate?” the reporter asked McIlroy.
“No,” McIlroy said.
Later, a different reporter asked McIlroy if it was going to be a conscious thing for him to sidestep the LIV Golf-PGA Tour narrative going forward.
“Yeah,” McIlroy said.
After missing the cut at the Masters, a tournament McIlroy needs to win to complete the career Grand Slam, he skipped the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, the next week. It was the second time he missed a designated event this season; he also did not play in the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January.
Under the PGA Tour’s new guidelines, a player is only allowed to skip one designated event. Missing a second tournament results in a player losing 25% of his Player Impact Program bonus.
Before the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan confirmed that McIlroy, who finished second behind Tiger Woods in the PIP race last season, would forfeit $3 million of his $12 million bonus.
“When we made the commitment to this schedule with the Player Impact Program, we adjusted for one opt-out,” Monahan said. “Then for any second opt-out, you forfeit the 25%, unless there was a medical issue. Based on that criteria, it’s actually fairly cut-and-dry.”
It didn’t seem so cut-and-dry to McIlroy when he was asked about skipping the RBC Heritage the day before Monahan met with reporters at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“I had my reasons not to play Hilton Head,” McIlroy said. “I expressed those to Jay and whether he thinks that is enough to warrant. … You know, look, again, I understood the consequences of that decision before I made it, so whatever happens, happens.”
On Tuesday, McIlroy, the No. 3-ranked player in the world, talked about trying to get over the disappointment of not making the weekend at Augusta National Golf Club.
“Golf is golf, and it happens and you’re going to have bad days,” McIlroy said. “It wasn’t really the performance of Augusta that’s hard to get over, it’s the mental aspect and the deflation of it and sort of trying to get your mind in the right place to start going forward again, I guess.”
McIlroy tied for 47th at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow, where he had won three previous times. He hit balls into the water on three of his last five holes and finished even par, 19 shots behind winner Wyndham Clark.
“I think I’m close,” McIlroy said. “I think I’ve made some good strides even from Quail Hollow a couple weeks ago. I’m seeing some better things, better start lines, [and] certainly just some better golf shots. A little more sure of where I’m going to start the ball and sort of a more consistent shot pattern.”
McIlroy would end a nearly eight-year drought without a major championship victory by winning at Oak Hill this week. He last won a major at the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.
McIlroy is a member of Oak Hill Country Club, and his wife, Erica, grew up in Rochester.
“You’re always going to have your ups and downs in the game,” McIlroy said. “I mean, I have to go out there and just hit good golf shots and respect the golf course and play the golf course the right way. But no, there’s nothing drastic that I need to change. I’ve been working a little bit on my swing the last couple of weeks trying to get that back in order. If I can execute the way I feel I know that I can, then I should be OK.”
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