Rory: PGA Tour support distracts from golf prep

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Rory McIlroy has emerged as one of the faces and most loyal supporters of the PGA Tour during its ongoing battle with LIV Golf. Whether it’s organizing players’ meetings, helping formulate new models for the tour or speaking with the media, McIlroy has been front and center for the past several months.

After missing the cut at the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass on Saturday, McIlroy admitted his off-course duties have taken a toll on his game.

“It’s just the time management,” McIlroy said. “The golf [at tournaments], that’s fine, but it’s just more the time at home to make sure you’re getting prepared, to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to be ready once you show up to these weeks. That’s where I’ve maybe sacrificed a little bit of time with some of this other stuff.

“As I said, I’m ready to get back to being purely a golfer.”

Before last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, McIlroy attended a players’ advisory committee meeting that lasted almost seven hours. He has participated in numerous calls with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, Tiger Woods and others.

McIlroy’s putter and driver let him down at the Players. He carded a 1-over 73 in the second round and finished 5 over after 36 holes. It was his sixth career missed cut at the Players.

McIlroy, who is ranked No. 3 in the world, needed 60 putts in two rounds and lost more than 3 strokes to the field in putting. He led the field in driving distance at 305.2 yards but was tied for 117th in driving accuracy, hitting only 13 of 28 fairways at the Stadium Course.

“Just very blah,” McIlroy said of his performance. “I guess the course, you just have to be really on to play well here. If you’re a little off, it definitely magnifies where you are off. It’s a bit of an enigma. Some years I come here, it feels easier than others. It’s just a tricky golf course, and [if] you don’t hit fairways, you’ve got your work cut out for you.”

McIlroy has less than a month to get ready for the Masters, the first major championship of the season, which is scheduled for April 6-9. He will try to become the sixth male golfer to complete the career Grand Slam by winning a green jacket. Last year, the four-time major champion finished second at the Masters after shooting an 8-under 64 in the final round.

He said he is heading to Augusta National on Monday and Tuesday for practice rounds.

“Just making sure my game is in shape for Augusta,” McIlroy said. “Making sure that I’ve got all the shots. Making sure that I familiarize myself with the golf course again and go up there for a couple of days. But yeah, from now all the way until the start of April, it’s really just all about getting ready for Augusta.”

McIlroy will play one more PGA Tour event before the Masters, the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas, on March 22-25.

With the tour announcing this week its plans to have eight elevated events with limited fields and no cuts starting in 2024, McIlroy is hoping he can get back to focusing solely on his game.

“I’d love to get back to being a golfer, yeah,” McIlroy said. “Look, it’s been a busy couple of weeks, and honestly, it’s been a busy sort of six or eight months. But as I said at the start of the week, everything has sort of been announced now and the wheels have been put in motion, so it should obviously quiet down from here.”

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