[PHOTO: Harry How]

The future of high-level professional golf could look a lot like it does at this week’s Genesis Invitational, with a few slight tweaks, Rory McIlroy said after the third round in Los Angeles.

Considering how low the energy level is at Riviera right now, that probably doesn’t sound very promising to golf fans. That said, while stars like Tiger Woods (WD), Jordan Spieth (DQ) and Justin Thomas (MC) all missed the weekend at this signature event, the leaderboard is looking as good as it has all year on the PGA Tour. It’s likely that best mates Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele will be in the final round’s last pairing, and Will Zalatoris’ comeback tour happens to be hitting at the perfect time. Major winners Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama, as well as former Ryder Cupper Harris English, are also on the first page of the leaderboard.

There have been plenty of overreactions on social media to the lack of star power on tour during the past few weeks. McIlroy doesn’t seem overly concerned with that.

“I think for these really big events and the ones that carry a lot of meaning and history – Riviera, Memorial, Bay Hill, those sort of events – yeah, I think this week’s worked pretty well,” McIlroy said. “It would be great to have a couple extra guys still playing over the weekend, but overall I think it’s worked pretty well so far.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean the current model couldn’t use some tweaking. McIlroy says he doesn’t know how long these signature events will run for, but the future of golf is still heading in a very signature event-y direction. And a more global one, too.

“I think it’s all pie-in-the-sky stuff,” he said. “I think there has to be a component of the southern hemisphere, Australia, South Africa. There obviously has to be a component of the far east, whether that be Korea, Japan, China. Obviously the Middle East as well. We’ve been going to the Middle East for a long time, but obviously Dubai, Saudi, and then sort of working our way from east to west and back into the United States for the sort of spring, summertime.

“I don’t think it will look too dissimilar to what it is right now, but maybe the front end of the year and the back end of the year might look a little different. I don’t think we need to blow everything up, but there definitely needs to be some tweaks, I think.”

One tweak would be a few more players. Eighty is the number McIlroy landed on (this week featured a 70-man field with a 36-hole cut). It would be one tour for the top players in the world, with all the others acting as feeder tours.

“The way I look at it, it would be like Champions League in European football,” McIlroy said. “It sort of sits above the rest of the leagues and then all those leagues sort of feed up into that and the best of the best play against each other in the Champions League is the way I would think about it.”

There was no mention of LIV Golf and where that would factor into this equation. McIlroy is well aware that getting everyone’s interests aligned is still an uphill battle.

“Everyone’s got their own interests in this game,” he said. “And that’s what happens when you’ve got quite a fractured landscape at this point.”