Rory McIlroy, one of the most prominent critics of LIV Golf, declined a further chance to rag on the Saudi-backed breakaway golf circuit.
At a press conference ahead of this week’s PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York, McIlroy was asked about where he thought professional men’s golf might be within three years.
The Irishman replied, ‘I don’t have a crystal ball.’ He did not elaborate any further when asked if he wanted to speculate.
Later in the press conference, McIlroy said that he would be consciously sidestepping the LIV-PGA narrative in the future when a reporter asked him.
‘Yeah’, was all that McIlroy replied.
Rory McIlroy declined to answer any questions about LIV Golf at a Tuesday press conference
McIlroy will be hoping to win his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla
McIlroy will be looking for a bounce back after a poor start to his major championship season in 2023.
He missed the cut at The Masters back in early April – the only leg missing from a lifelong pursuit of a career grand slam.
McIlroy hasn’t won a major championship since 2014, back when the PGA Championship was the last major on the calendar. He won by a single stroke over Phil Mickelson at Valhalla Country Club in Louisville, Kentucky.
The four-time major winner skipped the RBC Heritage in South Carolina right after his Masters disaster – the second ‘designated event’ he missed after not showing up for the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
That resulted in him losing $3million of the $12m he was owed as a result of his Player Impact Program bonus. Under those rules, a player is docked 25 percent of his PIP bonus if he misses more than one ‘designated event.’
‘When we made the commitment to this schedule with the Player Impact Program, we adjusted for one opt-out,’ PGA Tour commissioner Jay 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.’
But McIlroy didn’t seem to think so after being asked about it at the Wells Fargo Championship a few weeks ago. Reporters were due to meet with Monahan the next day.
McIlroy has participated in only seven tournaments this PGA tour season, winning in October
‘I had my reasons not to play Hilton Head,’ McIlroy said in Charlotte at the time. ‘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.’
McIlroy has only played in seven tournaments so far this season, winning the CJ Cup in October of 2022 and finishing runner up at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in early March.
But a week after that, he missed the cut at The Players Championship. After taking four weeks off, he went to Augusta and missed a second consecutive cut.
McIlroy then took three more weeks off before going down to Charlotte for the Wells Fargo, where he made the cut and finished even par, tied for 47th.
‘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.’
That appearance at Quail Hollow was error prone, hitting balls into the water on three of his last five holes on a course he’s won at three times in 2010, 2015, and 2021.
‘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.’
However, he’s missed two ‘designated events’ meaning he’ll lose out on about $3million
McIlroy returns to a country club he’s a member of in the city where his wife grew up
This return to upstate New York marks something of a homecoming for the McIlroys. Rory is a member at Oak Hill and his wife Erica is from Rochester.
He seems ready for a change in fortunes, but says there isn’t one particular aspect of his game that needs a major reconstruction.
‘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 okay.’