(Reuters) – Rory McIlroy is not a fan of golf’s new compacted major schedule and fears it might make the sport irrelevant to fans for much of the year, the world number two said on Wednesday.
The majors came thick and fast this year, played in a 101-day window from April to July, starting with the Masters and ending with the British Open.
The PGA Championship’s move from August to May meant that players barely had a chance to catch their breath between one major and the next.
“I’d like to see them spaced out the way tennis does it,” McIlroy told the BBC on the eve of the European Masters in the Swiss Alps.
“(Tennis) have the Australian Open in January and the U.S. Open is going on now.
“They have a nine-month window of relevancy. You want to stay relevant for as long as possible throughout the year and I don’t know by spacing the (golf) majors so close together that that’s the right thing to do.”
McIlroy says his victory at the Tour Championship in Atlanta on Sunday, where he earned $15 million by winning the season-long FedEx Cup points race, helped “soften the blow” of not winning a major in 2019.
“The money’s nice … but the satisfaction of winning the Fedex Cup and beating the guys that I beat down the stretch, that’s what makes me happy,” he told the European Tour.
“I feel I’m in a very privileged position where that money isn’t going to change my life in any way.
“It’s more about the competitiveness and getting myself back in a position where I feel I can be the best golfer in the world again.”
BODY OF WORK
McIlroy urged golf followers to consider a wider body of work than just the majors when assessing a player’s season.
The Northern Irishman has won four majors, but it has been five years and counting since his most recent triumph.
“We play 25 tournaments a year,” he said. “If the narrative becomes majors are the only important thing in golf, that’s a dangerous narrative to run with because then fans are not going to care about the other 48 weeks of the year.”
McIlroy has a busy slate of tournaments over the next two months.
He will play in England and Scotland next month before heading to Asia in October for the Zozo Championship in Japan and the WGC-HSBC Champions in China.
McIlroy only flirted with contention at one major this year, the U.S. Open where he tied for ninth. Most disappointing of all was missing the cut at the British Open in his homeland at Royal Portrush.
“I think the golf I’ve played this year, if I keep playing like this my chances will come and I’ll win more majors … and hopefully all this noise will go away,” he said.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Nick Mulvenney)