Rory Sticks Up For USGA

While most of the PGA Tour has been taking the opportunity to rail against the governing bodies and the updated Rules of Golf in recent week, Rory McIlroy took a contrarian viewpoint in his pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. 

In a media session loaded with Augusta and Grand Slam questions, McIlroy was asked how he thought the rules have affected the early-season of the PGA Tour and the controversies that have come out of it.

As we’ve come to expect, McIlroy offered a measured and well-thought-out response.

“I think that the governing bodies are a very easy target right now in the game of golf and it’s very easy for people to jump on the bandwagon and sort of criticize,” he admitted. “All these entities in golf, they’re not trying to do anything bad for the game, they’re trying to help the game in some way. So I think we all have to give them a bit of leeway here and say, yes, they probably made some mistakes, but we all do. And I’m sure they will get it right eventually.”

His answer included an expounded monologue on golf’s unique position in the world of sports.

“We’re obviously all heavily involved in golf, so we live inside our own little bubble a little bit,” McIlroy said. “But I’ve never known a sport to be so tangled up in the rules of the game or the rules of the sport,” he said. “So like I, they did need to be simplified, I think for the most part they have been simplified. But maybe there should have been a grace period of three months where we’ll implement these, we’ll get some feedback, but again at the same time, what we do — the professional tours — is a very small part of golf.

“Yes, the most eyeballs are on what we do, but there’s I don’t know how many hundreds of millions of golfers out there worldwide that are probably getting on okay with the new rules. The USGA, the R&A, the PGA Tour, everyone that was involved, maybe there should have been a period where we’re going to implement these, let us know how you feel, we might be a three-month period where we can tweak a few here and there, and they have tweaked a couple with the Denny McCarthy thing in Phoenix.”

McIlroy is returning to the site of his only worldwide win since late 2016. Despite his dearth of victories of late, he comes in boasting some of the best form in the game. McIlroy has finished inside the top-5 in each of his four PGA Tour starts in 2019. 

He’ll tee off on Thursday alongside Patrick Reed and Marc Leishman at 12:33 p.m. EST.