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rory mcilroy masters 2022

Rory McIlroy gives damning verdict on ‘obsolete’ Travelers Championship host venue

Rory McIlroy alluded to golf ball roll back in his verdict of the Travelers Championship – a tournament that almost saw two players shoot 59

 

A host of low scores rained down on TPC River Highlands last week as Keegan Bradley used the favourable conditions to secure a sixth PGA Tour title.

There were eight scores of 64 or better on Sunday at the Travelers Championship, while Rickie Fowler and Denny McCarthy both came very close to carding 59s during the week.

Bradley’s winning mark of 23-under-par was the lowest since the event moved to this venue in 1984, as scoreable conditions helped the 37-year-old on his way to a three-shot win.

We often question what golf fans prefer watching between birdie fests to bloodbaths, but to Rory McIlroy, last week represented a larger concern about the viability of TPC River Highlands as a host venue on the PGA Tour.

“I don’t particularly like when a tournament is like this,” McIlroy said after coming tied for seventh. “Unfortunately technology has passed this course by, right?

“It has made it obsolete, especially as soft as it has been with a little bit of rain that we had.

“So, again, like the conversations going back to limiting the golf ball, when we come to courses like this, they just don’t present the challenge that they used to.

rory mcilroy

“You can grow the rough up and hope you get some firm conditions so it gets tricky. I think the blueprint for a really good golf course isn’t growing the rough up and making the fairways tight. That bunches everyone together.

“The blueprint is something like LACC where you have wide targets, but if you miss it’s penal. This isn’t that sort of golf course. It’s not that sort of layout. It doesn’t have the land to do that.

“Unfortunately when you get soft conditions like this and you’ve got the best players in the world, this is what’s going to happen.”

When the R&A and USGA’s proposal to roll back the golf ball was announced in March, Rory McIlroy was one of the only players to praise this new model local rule.

The Northern Irishman believes not only will it benefit the professional game, but it will help to identify who the best players are in tournaments.

The two governing bodies involved with the proposal declared their intention not to “do nothing” at the US Open and to protect the “long-term future and health of the game.”

In the Distance Insights Report of 2020, the R&A and USGA wrote:

“Longer distances, longer courses, playing from longer tees, and longer times to play are taking golf in the wrong direction and are not necessary to make golf challenging, enjoyable or sustainable in the future.”

As McIlroy points out, TPC River Highlands seemingly can’t acquire land in the same way other venues can, which would mean a rolled-back golf ball could bring a significant defense against low-scoring.

Back in 2016, Augusta National struck a deal with its neighbour, Augusta Country Club, to acquire land in order to extend the iconic par 5 13th hole.

This would now appear as an example of what the R&A and the USGA want to avoid in the future.

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rory mcilroy

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spent time with some of the biggest names in the sport.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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