PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy: PGA Tour should be more 'cutthroat,' with fewer playing spots available


Rory McIlroy walks off the 18th green at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Keyur Khamar

ORLANDO — Playing opportunities on the PGA Tour appear to be contracting in this new age of signature events that feature larger purses and smaller fields. Rory McIlroy, who argued for creating the more exclusive tournaments—eight in all this year—isn’t inclined to give them his seal of approval.

Apparently, signature events aren’t exclusive enough for his taste. Oh, and there are too many players on tour, anyway, so that needs to be addressed, too, so that the number of golfers trying to wedge their way into tournaments such as this week’s $20 million Arnold Palmer Invitational is curtailed.

Wow, the player who stuck his neck out to staunchly advocate for the PGA Tour in the early days of the launch of the rival LIV Golf League sounds more and more like, well … a LIV proponent.

“I’m all for making it more cutthroat, more competitive,” McIlroy, the No. 2 player in the world, said Friday after a second-round two-under 70 at Bay Hill Club that put him in a tie for 30th. “Probably won’t be very popular for saying this, but I’m all for less players and less tour cards, and the best of the best.”

Nope, that probably isn’t going to go over well with those who get to compete in next week’s flagship event on the PGA Tour, the $25 million Players Championship.

The tour originally planned for all of its signature events to be no-cut competitions, but representatives of three invitationals sought differentiation from the others and stood their ground. It didn’t hurt that Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, who host the Genesis Invitational and the Memorial Tournament, respectively, preferred to have a cut at their tournaments. And API officials argued that the late Palmer would agree.

So, there was a cut on Friday, coming at three over par, with 58 of the 69 players in the field advancing to the weekend by being among the low 50 scores and those 10 shots or closer to the lead. Six players were tied at the top at seven under.

McIlroy is OK with this, in case you are wondering. Or even if you weren’t. Not thrilled, mind you. But OK.

“I was indifferent,” he said. “When all these signature events were thought of, we were thinking no cut, but if it's important enough—or if it's that important to Tiger and Jack, and if Arnold were alive—if it was important enough for him, then it's their tournament, at the end of the day, and they can do whatever they want.”

But a cut is good, right? Because, you know, it's cutthroat.