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Rory McIlroy on USGA, R&A Distance Insights Report: 'It's a huge waste of money'

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Rory McIlroy wanted to talk. And when McIlroy wants to talk, you better listen. His press conference ahead of his debut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open had come to an end without anyone asking him a question about yesterday’s USGA/R&A announcement that they are moving into “the solution phase,” a year after issuing its Distance Insights Report.

“No one asked me about the equipment,” McIlroy said in a voice that was a combination of surprise and disappointment.

The camera was still rolling, his mic was still hot and McIlroy said, “I’ve got all day.”

So, we asked and McIlroy didn’t hold back.

“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. Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the people that play this game play for enjoyment, for entertainment. They don’t need to be told what ball or clubs to use,” he said. “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 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.”

Asked if he would be in favor of a local rule or different rules for the pros, McIlroy said: “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.

“I think maybe they said that in terms of local rules and maybe some sort of bifurcation, but we we are such a tiny portion of golf. Like golf is way bigger than the professional game. Golf is like – we’re such a tiny part of it. It’s the other stuff that really matters, and that’s the stuff they need to concentrate on.”

In other words, McIlroy wouldn’t be opposed to bifurcation, a word that the governing bodies seem to have an allergic reaction to whenever it is brought up.

“That wouldn’t be the worst outcome,” McIlroy confirmed. “If they want to make it more difficult for us and make more skill involved at the top level, I’m OK with that.”

Rory McIlroy blasts driver off the eighth tee at TPC Scottsdale during Wednesday’s pro-am at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. (Adam Schupak/Golfweek)

McIlroy continued his rant in an interview with Golf Channel shortly thereafter, saying that the governing bodies are looking at regulating distance through a tiny, narrow lens.

“The fact is they are looking at the wrong thing,” he said. “They spent millions of dollars doing this Distance Insights Report. It’s not going to change the game at all. They might put a few new regulations, but the manufacturers are going to find a way around them. That’s how good they are.

“We need more young people in the game, more minorities in the game. That’s how we keep the game going for the next 100 years, not by looking at the ball. That’s my point. I’m probably going to get in trouble for saying this, but it reeks of self-importance.

“Yes, they’re the gatekeepers of the game but their job is to make sure the game thrives in 100 years time. This isn’t the way to do it. The way to do it is to get more people into the game and make it more approachable. This is honestly going to make the game less enjoyable. You need balls that can get up in the air and drivers that can go a long way. That’s what people want to do. That’s why they want to play the game.

There was a moment when Golf Channel had to stop rolling to change batteries and McIlroy said, “I was just getting going.”

Indeed, he was. He was rolling.

“I woke up in a mood,” he said, noting that he had spent 24 hours of listening to all this equipment stuff.

Nothing quite like a good McIlroy rant, especially when it comes to the latest hot-button topic in the world of golf.

Listen to Adam Schupak preview the Phoenix Open with Jody Oehler of Fox Sports 910 AM in Phoenix (scroll to 24:48 mark):

original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/02/03/rory-mcilroy-usga-ra-distance-insights-report-huge-waste-money/

Photos: Waste Management Phoenix Open 2021 at TPC Scottsdale

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