Rory McIlroy has little sympathy for the likes of Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari who have decided against taking part in the PGA Tour's resumption
Eyes down for a full house, it’s time for another game of Rory McIlroy bingo.
He says it like it is. He never shirks a question. He is a breath of fresh air for golf. He is the spokesman of the tour players. Sometimes the claims will be controversial.
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There has already been much debate about whether or not the world rankings, which were frozen during the tours’ suspension, should have resumed alongside the PGA Tour – especially given the European Tour isn’t up and running for another month.
Among the high-profile European-based players not to make the trip over the Atlantic were McIlroy’s Ryder Cup team-mates Tommy Fleetwood, Francesco Molinari and Lee Westwood.
Fleetwood, in particular, has never made it a secret of his desire to become World No 1 – a position currently held by McIlroy, who will tee off at Harbour Town this week top of the rankings for a 103rd week.
“I honestly don’t understand the guys complaining because there is a solution to it,” McIlroy said. “You can come over here and do what needs to be done.
“Look, personally, if I were in their shoes and I was asked to come over to the States and shelter in place or quarantine for two weeks before these tournaments, I would have done that.
“If you really care about your career and care about moving forward, you should be here. Last week [at Colonial] was 70 world ranking points for the winner, this week [at the RBC Heritage] it’s 74.
“And I get there’s different variables, and families and stuff involved, but we all have the means to rent a very nice house in a gated community in Florida. It’s not a hardship for two weeks to come over and quarantine. My caddie Harry came over and did it. He stayed in our guest house. The two weeks flew by.”
When McIlroy was reminded that the two-week quarantine rules in both the US and on returning to the UK could mean the best part of two months away to play in two tournaments, McIlroy added: “I do appreciate that. But [for] most kids it’s the end of the school year. Again, you can bring your family with you. We all have the means to do that.
“It might seem a little harsh, but I don’t get that mindset, especially if you care about your career and you want to advance.”
Bingo! Bring your card up, let’s see what you’ve won.
So was Rory McIlroy right?
It’s very easy for McIlroy to sit there and say these things as a non-parent. Perhaps that stance will change when that particular part of his personal life does.
This wasn’t the usual confident McIlroy when asking these questions, and it felt like he stumbled his way through the answers a bit – a key sign that he knew he was saying something controversial and it would upset a few people.
Is flying around the world – particularly between the two worst-hit countries in the world – during a global pandemic worth it for a few hundred grand and a sackful of world ranking points?
Fleetwood and Co have decided, for the sake of their families, that it’s not and, do you know what, it is entirely their right as individual contractors to decide where and when they play. McIlroy should respect that.
Equally, the show must go on. Golf, like all other parts of our lives, is trying to deal with an unfamiliar situation and it is fumbling its way along. It’s hard to see why the whole system should remain frozen any longer than it has to because of complications and inconveniences for some international players. Said players should respect that too.
Do you agree with Rory McIlroy’s stance that players should have gone to the US if they cared about their career? Let us know in the comments below or you can tweet me.