PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — To hear Rory McIlroy, the PGA Tour players’ meetup, held bright and early Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. at TPC Sawgrass, home of the Players Championship, served its purpose in educating members about the inform changes approved by the Tour Policy Board last week.
“As they were presented with more information and data, people who might have reservations came along, or at least were more informed about their opinions,” McIlroy said.
He noted that tour executives walked players through a scaled-down slideshow of what was presented to the board during their meeting, which lasted nearly seven hours.
“Obviously we are all here to prepare for one of the biggest tournaments of the year. So with that time pressure, they took the key slides and showed them to the members,” McIlroy said. “Yeah, I think it was good for them to see that and see what’s behind what we’re really trying to do here. I think the temperature in the room wasn’t nearly as hot as I once expected the information was kind of laid out.”
Last week, James Hahn caused a stir in an interview with Golfweek, becoming the first ranked player to express his displeasure at changes that will rob players outside the top 50 of playing opportunities and create guaranteed no-cut events for the best players.
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McIlroy acknowledged that the Delaware presentation at the BMW Championship in August, when the top players rallied alone to form a united front against LIV Golf, was “very self-serving for the 20 players in that room.” He said the approved plan, starting in 2024, is very different from what he and Tiger initially proposed.
“We looked at fields from 50 to 60. We only looked at 10 players who fall out of that top 50 each year, so an 80 percent retention rate,” he said. “The Tour was like, look, the typical retention rate for the top 50 historically has been about 60 percent, so let’s try to get back to that number.”
McIlroy said the original proposal in the Delaware deck had 14 elevated events before settling on eight in addition to the players, the three FedEx Cup playoff events and the four majors. McIlroy argued that the changes were to “make everyone better”.
“I think if we had gone that route, it wouldn’t serve members nearly as well as what this structure does,” he said. “Look at the entire schedule, there are eight designated events outside of those tournaments I just mentioned. But then there are 29 full field events throughout the rest of the calendar year.”
McIlroy added, “There’s enough danger built into the system.”
Next season’s schedule has not yet been announced, but McIlroy said the schedule’s cadence should follow a rhythm of two set events, followed by three regular events, flush and repeat.
“I don’t want to take a three-week break between big events. I’ll play at least one of those three to try and keep my game sharp,” he said, explaining that the top players will likely play more than just the 16 designated Events. “You will play more than that to feel fit and ready to compete in the biggest events.”
Rahm reiterated to McIlroy that he will play at least a few non-elevated events, including the Farmers Insurance Open at his favorite Torrey Pines course. But as far as player meeting temperature went, Rahm had little to offer.
“Listen, when they told me it was 7:30 a.m. and I had nothing else to do until 10 a.m., I wanted to make time in the morning to be with my kids,” he said. “I didn’t sleep, I played with my kids.”