The Premier Golf League, or even the mere potential of its future existence, has the golf world talking.
Top players, or their representation, have been in contact with the PGL’s founders about the developments of the concept, including the Saudi-influenced financing, a potential future schedule, financial considerations and the dozens of other looming questions surrounding the idea of a 48-player elite golf tour.
However, the world No. 1 Rory McIlroy has heard enough, and he’s made his decision on joining the Premier Golf League, if it comes to fruition. He’ll take a pass.
“For me, I’m out,” McIlroy said Wednesday ahead of the WGC-Mexico Championship. “My position is I’m against it until there’s a day I can’t be against it.”
Earlier, he said, “The more I’ve thought about it, the more I don’t like it.”
McIlroy said he didn’t like the concept because he feels he would be giving up his status as an “independent contractor” that he now enjoys as a dual PGA Tour and European Tour member by going to the Premier Golf League.
“The one thing as a professional golfer in my position that I value is the fact that I have autonomy and freedom over everything that I do. I pick and choose,” he said. “Some guys this week made the choice not to come to Mexico. If you go and play this other golf league, you’re not going to have that choice.
“I read a thing the other day where it said if you take the money they can tell you what to do, so if you don’t take the money, they can’t tell you what to do. And I think that’s my thing; I’ve never been one for being told what to do, and I like to have that autonomy and freedom over my career, and I feel like I would give that up by going to play this other league.”
The Ulsterman acknowledged other players are somewhat conflicted about the idea, with many having questions that haven’t yet been answered.
McIlroy feels Tiger Woods will decline to join the PGL because of the travel schedule and its impact on his daily quality of life.
For his part, Phil Mickelson said at Riviera last week that he would be looking toward The Players to potentially announce his decision. That came after rumors on Sunday that Mickelson would be willing to commit to the PGL after The Genesis Invitational. Instead, he said he wasn’t prepared to talk about that choice yet.
In recent months, the principals behind the U.K.-based Premier Golf League have pushed forward to secure the massive financial backing needed to establish the Premier Golf League. Some portion of the backing is believed to derive from Saudi Arabia, which has made a substantial investment in hosting professional golf events as part of its efforts to use sports and entertainment to distract the public from the kingdom’s poor human rights record.
The PGL has released talking points and other information concerning the potential layout for the league, featuring some 18 events between the United States and elsewhere. The schedule would feature $10 million purses at every event, with a no-cut, 54-hole format for 48 players. There would be a team component as well, with Mickelson courted as one of a dozen franchise owners.