Webb Simpson and Justin Thomas were, in the most generous of terms, not copacetic with yesterday’s announcement from the R&A and USGA signalling a distance rollback. But Rory McIlroy left no room for interpretation on his distance thoughts.
After finishing his press conference with the media at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, McIlroy asked a reporter why the Ulsterman wasn’t inquired about the joint release from the governing bodies. When goaded for his opinion, the four-time Major winner let loose.
“So I think the authorities, the R&A and USGA, are looking at the game through such a tiny little lens, that what they’re trying to do is change something that pertains to 0.1 percent of the golfing community, while 99.9 percent of the people play this game play for enjoyment, for entertainment,” McIlroy said. “They don’t need to be told what ball or clubs to use.
“We have to make the game as easy and approachable as possible for the majority of golfers. Honestly, I think this distance insight report has been a huge waste of time and money, because that money that it’s cost to do this report could have been way better distributed to getting people into the game, introducing young kids to the game, introducing minorities to the game. I heard [USGA chief executive] Mike Davis say something about we’re trying to protect the game for the next hundred years.
“This isn’t how you do it. This is so small and inconsequential compared to the other things happening in the game. It’s the grassroots. It’s getting more people engaged in golf. That’s where they should be spending their money, not spending it on the distance insight report.”
McIlroy was asked if he would be in favour of professionals playing by different rules, to which McIlroy responded in the affirmative.
“Yeah, I would be all for that. If they want to try to make the game more difficult for us or more – try to incorporate more skill to the game, yeah, I would be all for that, because I think it only benefits the better play, which I feel like I am.”
McIlroy finished by stating golf is “way bigger than the professional game”.
“It’s the other stuff that really matters, and that’s the stuff they need to concentrate on,” he said.
McIlroy is second on the PGA Tour in driving distance with a 294.2-metre (321.7 yard) average. He is making his first career start at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.