Golf: McIlroy 'so sick' of Super League talk, Rahm pledges 'fealty' to PGA Tour

Rory McIlroy has already made it plain he's not a fan of the proposed league. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP, REUTERS) - Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy is "sick" of talking about the proposed Saudi-backed Golf Super League, and thinks the PGA Tour offers plenty of opportunity for quality golfers.

"Oh, I'm so sick of it," the Northern Ireland star said on Wednesday (Feb 16) at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club when asked if he was growing tired of the topic.

McIlroy, 32, has already made it plain he's not a fan of the proposed league, which has been championed by Australian great Greg Norman but has yet to officially confirm its first signed-up player.

"I guess I'm intrigued who would (join)," McIlroy said. "Certainly for the younger guys, it just seems a massive risk.

"I can maybe make sense of it for the guys that are getting to the later stages of their career, for sure. I don't think that's what a rival golf league is really, that's not what they're going to want, is it?

Tiger Woods, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas have also indicated they wouldn't be interested.

World No. 1 Jon Rahm joined them on Wednesday, saying: "This is my official, my one and only time I'll talk about this, where I am officially declaring my fealty to the PGA Tour.

"There has been a lot of talk and speculation about the Saudi league. It's just not something I believe is the best for me and my future in golf, and I think the best legacy I can accomplish will be with the PGA Tour...

"I don't do this for the money, which to me is the only appeal to go over there.

"They throw numbers at you and that's supposed to impress people. I'm in this game for the love of golf and the love of the game and to become a champion, right?"

His comments come just a day after world No. 2 Collin Morikawa said the Tour is "where I belong."

But talk about the league has ramped up recently thanks to comments from Phil Mickelson blasting the "greed" of the US PGA Tour as something that would make the league - which would offer big guaranteed payouts - attractive.

Indeed, former world No. 1 Adam Scott is one who's considering jumping Tours. The 2013 Masters champion said he's in talks with the Super League.

"I think the schedule they're proposing is very appealing to most golfers," he said.

"But like everyone else, we're sworn to secrecy."

There have been reports that PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will ban any player who joins the Super League from the US tour.

McIlroy, who is on the PGA Tour's policy board, said he believed the PGA Tour was in a strong financial position, and players stood to benefit from increased prize money and bonus programmes in coming years.

"There's a forecast through 2025, yeah," he said. "Any forecast that the PGA Tour has produced in the last 10 years, they've hit their target. So the forecast for 2025, it looks good."

He also addressed the issue of the Tour retaining media rights - such as of images of players competing in tournaments - which Mickelson, in particular, has criticised.

McIlroy said the model was similar to that of the National Basketball Association and National Football League and other major sports leagues, who attract sponsorship money by controlling media rights.

He suggested there could be more "flexibility" in media rights, while 15-time Major winner Woods said changes in the media landscape - including the evolution of the internet and social media - meant the system should evolve.

"Media rights is a big thing," said Woods, who is still sidelined as he recovers from serious leg injuries suffered in a car crash last year.

Woods noted that when he launched his pro career "we barely had cellphones, barely had the internet."

"A lot of us are concerned about what is the direction where we're going and how can we have more control over that... there's a balance of what's best for the players and what's best for the brand."

Meanwhile, members of the US PGA Tour's Player Advisory Council are considering the creation of a three-event team series for top players starting in 2023, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.

Golf Channel and Golf Digest, each citing unnamed sources, said the idea was tossed around during a council meeting on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

A team format was an idea from one of the potential PGA rivals looking to start over the past couple years, the Premier Golf League.

The team idea in development by the council, according to Golf Channel, would begin in 2023 as a three-event series late in the calendar year using a team format similar to US collegiate golf.

The tournaments would be staged in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

The top 50 players in the US PGA's season points standings would qualify for the team events with their spots secured for the following year's campaign.

The team tournaments would feature big pursues and no cuts with 10 five-man teams led by a captain who would be drawn from among the top-10 players in the Tour's Player Impact Program, which ranks and rewards players based on social media popularity.

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