Rory McIlroy sent the golf world into a bit of a tizzy on Wednesday when he, again, spoke the truth.
He made it clear as day which of the four major championships should be considered the biggest. Or, as most people saw if they were looking only on social media, "The Masters is now the biggest tournament in the world."
However, before anyone gets too worked up about what McIlroy said, let's see the whole quote in proper context.
"I don't care about the US Open or The Open Championship – The Masters is now the biggest tournament in the world, the most amount of eyeballs, the most amount of hype, everything is at Augusta," McIlroy said ahead of the Wells Fargo Championship.
McIlroy wasn't putting down the US Open or the Open Championship, or the PGA Championship that matter. He was lifting up the Masters, its popularity and cultural relevancy. By those metrics, the Masters is indeed the biggest tournament in the world. It draws the most eyeballs on TV. Most every golf website has their highest-traffic month in April because of the Masters. The other three majors are pretty closely grouped to each other, but they're all behind what happens in Augusta National.
That doesn't make them any less desirable to win. They don't have diminished prestige. They're still majors.
Pro golfers wouldn't uniformly say they most want to win the Masters above the others, though it's probably the top answer these days. Some would say they covet the US Open most; others want the Claret Jug from the Open Championship. Not too many would say the PGA Championship is tops on their must-win list, but they wouldn't turn down a year with the Wanamaker.
Frankly, the benefits of winning the Masters are probably the best. Winners get in the Masters for life. They can play Augusta National at pretty much any time. They get to go to the Champions Dinner and are a member of the Masters Club forever. They have a locker in the Champions Locker Room with a green jacket in it.
What helps the Masters become the biggest tournament in the world? It's the first men's major of the year. It's held at the same place every year. The club has built an aura of mystery around the tournament, and simultaneously the private club behind it, which piques curiosity and interest.
The other majors don't have that or don't do that. Anyone can get in the US Open or The Open, provided they meet the handicap requirements. The PGA of America celebrates club pros with their championship, but the club-pro presence in the field is perceived as bringing down the event. All three of the events move around each year.
So, McIlroy is absolutely right when he says the Masters is the biggest tournament in the world. All the facts support his opinion. And coming off a week where he had his second-best chance to win that biggest tournament, the one major he doesn't have in hand, McIlroy is probably thinking even more about how big that event really is -- for golf fans, as well in his mind and heart.