Rory McIlroy has delivered a fatal blow to the $240m Premier Golf League plan with a simple 'I'm out'.
The game of golf is well accustomed to McIlroy delivering staggering blows, but still the one the world No 1 delivered to the proposed Premier Golf League yesterday surprised everyone with its finality.
The breakaway circuit has been the talk of the range since last month when the mystery World Golf Group consortium put a little more substance to the well-worn rumours. The 48 top players in the world would compete in an 18-event season, with each 54-hole tournament offering a $10m purse, with each winner receiving $2m.
There would also be a 12-man team event putting up another $30m. Each team would have one of the superstars as the owner/captain and McIlroy's management had already been consulted about his interest. But the 30-year-old gave the PGA and European Tours a huge fillip on the eve of the WGC-Mexico Championship.
"The more I've thought about it the more I don't like it," McIlroy said. "I read a thing that said if you take the money they can tell you what to do, so if you don't take the money they can't tell you what to do.
"That's my thing - I've never been one for being told what to do and I like to have that autonomy and freedom. So for me, I'm out. I would like to be on the right side of history with this one."
It is difficult to see how PGL can feasibly go ahead without McIlroy's patronage. Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose have not ruled themselves out yet, but Tiger Woods is the key. McIlroy believes the 15-time Major winner will soon join him.
"If everyone else goes I might not have a choice, but at this point I don't like what they're proposing," said the current world No 1. He could be replaced on Sunday by Jon Rahm, however, if the Spaniard wins the $10.5 million WGC-Mexico Championship.
"Tiger's 44, he's got two young kids. He's openly said last week he wants to play 12 times a year, this league's proposing 18 so he's not going to do it."
The concept of a "World Golf Tour" has been around for more than 20 years, with Greg Norman unveiling his plans in 1994 but failing to gain any traction.
"I would like to be on the right side of history with this one, just sort of as Arnold (Palmer) was with the whole Greg Norman thing in the 90s," McIlroy added. "Money's cheap, money's the easy part. It shouldn't be the driving factor. For some people it is and we're professional golfers and we're out here playing golf to make a living, but at the end of the day I value my freedom and my autonomy over everything."
Shane Lowry is looking to build on his three top-15 finishes from four events in Mexico, while Graeme McDowell is relishing his first World Golf Championship event since 2016.
"It's important for me, if I have aspirations of being in the Ryder Cup team, so it's really important to get my schedule to where it needs to be." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
WGC-Mexico Championship Live, Sky Sports Golf, 7.0pm