MEXICO CITY – Rory McIlroy was the first top player to publicly reject the idea of a proposed new tour, saying that he appreciated his choice of where to play over the money the Premier Golf League promised.
"I want to be on the right side of the story in this case," said McIlroy at the Mexico Championship on Wednesday.
McIlroy, the world's # 1 player, said the only thing that could change his mind would be if all of the top players decided to join, and he doesn't see it.
"I think it's very divided at the moment," he said.
There has been talk of a Premier Golf League for around six years and it has gained momentum in recent months, along with serious funding, mainly from Saudi Arabia. Organizers have spoken to players and agents in the past few months in the Bahamas, Australia and last week in Los Angeles.
Phil Mickelson, who played with Pro-Am representatives at Saudi International last month, said on Sunday he was not ready to announce his intentions, but might be ready to publicly express his opinion at The Players Championship.
Tiger Woods just said that he and his people took care of it.
The idea of the Premier Golf League is to liven up the game of golf by assembling 12 four-man teams that are needed for 18 events – 10 of them in the USA – with 54 holes, no cut and a shotgun start for five hours send window. The total prize money would be $ 240 million, and the top player could earn up to $ 50 million.
McIlroy said money was "cheap".
"Money is the easy part," said McIlroy. "It shouldn't be the driving factor. Look, for some people it is. And we are professional golfers and play golf to make a living. But at the end of the day, I value my freedom and autonomy over everything else."
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan sent a memo to players last month saying that anyone joining the Premier Golf League would have to give up their PGA tour membership as the tour has contracts with title sponsors for a full schedule and television partners Has.
The Premier Golf League schedule would not include the majors. And it still has to be decided whether the official World Golf Ranking Board – represented by large tours and golf organizations – would enable the league to receive ranking points. The world rankings are used to determine the field for majors.
In order for someone like Woods – the biggest draw in golf – to play in the new league, they may have to play 22 times a year if the league has a schedule of 18 tournaments.
"Tiger is 44 years old. He has two young children," said McIlroy. "He said openly last week that he wanted to play 12 times a year, so this league suggests 18, so he won't."
Other players have said they are studying proposals even though no one has announced a decision.
"I'm not really anywhere," said Dustin Johnson. "I'm playing on the PGA tour right now. But a lot would have to happen for that to change. As Rory said, if there was a situation where I felt I had to play, I would do it. But right now I play on the PGA tour. "