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McIlroy delivers devastating blow to Premier Golf League

Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy, the world No. 1 men’s golfer, has delivered a potentially fatal blow to the proposed Premier Golf League by stating that he has no interest in taking part in the potential rival to the PGA Tour.

Last month, the World Golf Group (WGG) organization unveiled plans for the 18-event PGL, which offers a total prize purse of $240m (€217.7m) and is scheduled to debut in January 2022.

An eight-month season would start in January, with 10 of the 18 tournaments being held in the United States. WGG is seeking to sign up 48 players, with an individual champion to be decided after the 17th event and the finale to be staged as a team play-off.

But before any of that competition occurs, the sport’s top male talent says he wants no part of it.

“The more I’ve thought about it, the more I don’t like it,” McIlroy said 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. I pick and choose; this [week] is a perfect example. Some guys this week made the choice to not come to Mexico. If you go and play this other golf league, you’re not going to have that choice.

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

McIlroy also said he does not believe that superstar Tiger Woods would be keen to take part either. “Tiger is 44, he’s got two young kids. He openly said last week he wants to play 12 times a year, this league is proposing 18, so he’s not going to do it,” the Northern Irishman added.

Woods recently confirmed that he had been approached by PGL organizers but was non-committal.

“Have I been personally approached? Yes, and my team’s been aware of it and we’ve delved into the details of it and trying to figure it out just like everyone else,” Woods said earlier this month. “We’ve been down this road before with World Golf Championships and other events being started, or other tours want to evolve and started. There’s a lot of information that we’re still looking at and whether it’s reality or not, but just like everybody else, we’re looking into it.”

McIlroy said the only thing that could change his mind were if all the top players decided to join the PGL, which he does not foresee happening. “My position is I’m against it until there may come a day that I can’t be against it. If everyone else goes I might not have a choice, but at this point I don’t like what they’re proposing,” McIlroy added.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has drawn a tough line for any players who may be interested in joining the PGL, warning that members can only compete in one of the organizations.