ORLANDO, Fla. — Two weeks ago, Rory McIlroy became the first top player to distance himself from the proposed world golf tour, called the Premier Golf League, telling reporters, “I’m out.’’
On Thursday, moments after taking the early first-round lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill with a 6-under-par 66, McIlroy doubled down on his denouncement of the PGL.
“I didn’t really like where the money was coming from,’’ McIlroy said in an interview on the Golf Channel, referring to the money reportedly coming from Saudi Arabia interests. “I wanted to be the first one to speak out against it and I’m glad that I have.’’
McIlroy, too, has been vocal about the proposed mandatory 18-tournament schedule of the PGL, 10 events in the U.S. and the other eight around the world.
“The reason I said what I said was because we were in Mexico [for the World Golf Championships two weeks ago] and some [players] decided not to go,” McIlroy said, referring to eight of the world’s top-10 ranked golfers skipping the WGC event in Mexico City. “But that was their choice; that was the freedom that they had. They have autonomy over their schedule and they can pick and choose when and where they want to play.
“But that’s not the case with this new league. You’re going to be contracted to play 18 events. They’re going to tell you where and when you should be there. As a golfer and an independent contractor, I didn’t like the sound of that. I’d like to think I’m quite a loyal person and the PGA Tour has given me a platform to showcase my skills and build my brand and become this athlete that I am.’’
There have been rumors floating about that PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is ready to ban any players who are members of the PGA Tour from playing in PGA Tour events if they join the PGL.