It only seems like yesterday that Rory McIlroy was taking his first steps on the PGA Tour, but now, he is a key figure in guiding its future.
He has been the most vocal supporter of the circuit on which he has won 23 times, including four majors, at a time when the Tour faces a direct threat from LIV Golf.
McIlroy has played an instrumental role in devising the designated schedule being played out this year, and the revamped schedule arriving in 2024.
But is his responsibility becoming too much of a burden? Before The Players, McIlroy had added the Dubai Desert Classic to his record, having won a third PGA Tour Championship – and, with it, the FedEx Cup – a few months prior.
He is in the conversation as to who is the world’s best golfer, battling with Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm, but McIlroy showed signs of fatigue in missing the cut at TPC Sawgrass.
Having tasted success at the Stadium Course in Florida in 2019, McIlroy just couldn’t find a spark and carded rounds of 76 and 73 – the first time he’s failed to make the weekend since August.
“I’d love to get back to being a golfer,” McIlroy said. “It’s been a busy couple of weeks – honestly it’s been a busy six or eight months.
“But, as I said at the start of the week, everything has been announced now, and the wheels have been put in motion, so it should obviously quieten down from here.
“It’s just the time management. The golf out here, that’s fine, but it’s just more the time at home to make sure you’re getting prepared, to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to be ready once you
show up to these weeks.
“That’s where I’ve maybe sacrificed a little bit of time with some of this other stuff. As I said, I’m ready to get back to being purely a golfer.”
Unfortunately for McIlroy, he might not have heard the last of the argument over next year’s schedule, which will feature eight designated events with no cuts.
Ryan Armour and James Hahn, the former a member of the Player Advisory Council, have both strongly criticised the new changes for supposedly serving the top players and neglecting the rank and file.
Perhaps this is a bridge that McIlroy will cross again soon, but for now, he told the media his focus is on preparing and peaking for the Masters in April.
The Northern Irishman will tee it up in the WGC-Match Play at the end of March – his final appearance on Tour before his next attempt at the Grand Slam at Augusta.
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