Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm give LIV some credit for PGA Tour changes
It’s been a common question during this restructuring period for the PGA Tour: Just how much of the Tour’s sweeping changes can be attributed to the emergence of LIV Golf?
On Tuesday at TPC Sawgrass, two of the Tour’s biggest stars, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm, answered it.
“A lot of it,” McIlroy said. “I'm not going to sit here and lie. I think the emergence of LIV, or the emergence of a competitor to the PGA Tour, has benefited everyone that plays elite, professional golf. I think when you've been the biggest golf league in the biggest market in the world for the last 60 years, there's not a lot of incentive to innovate. This has caused a ton of innovation at the PGA Tour, and what was quite, I would say, an antiquated system is being revamped to try to mirror where we're at in the world in the 21st century.”
Full-field tee times from The Players Championship
McIlroy noted that the PGA Tour isn’t just competing against LIV and other sports but also mediums like Instagram, TikTok and “everything else that's trying to take eyeballs away from the PGA Tour as a product.”
Rahm followed McIlroy into the interview room and echoed much of the same, though LIV wasn’t part of the question when he was asked what the biggest driver of change has been for the Tour.
“Oh, it's LIV Golf,” Rahm said. “I mean, without a doubt. Without LIV Golf, this wouldn't have happened. So, to an extent, like I've said before, we should be thankful this threat has made the PGA Tour want to change things. I think I said it last week, as well; I wish it didn't come to the PGA Tour being, you know, under fire from somebody else to make those changes and make things better for the players, but I guess it is what we needed. So, yeah, it is because of LIV Golf, otherwise we wouldn't have seen any of this.”
Rahm’s longtime mentor, Phil Mickelson, who last June signed with the Saudi-backed league, said earlier this year that “a number of guys thank me profusely.”
“I’ve been appreciative of the number of players who thanked me for however big or small it may have been to get some of these changes that occurred,” Mickelson said. “It’s a decent amount of guys; I don’t want to call out guys and who they are. But it’s been a good learning experience.”
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PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, however, didn’t bite.
“To me, the credit goes to all of our players out here and also goes to our fans,” Monahan said. “We've listened to our fans and we've responded and we're returning to our fans what they have told us that they wanted. So, that's really how we got to the amount of change that we've had over the last five or six years.”