Rory McIlroy admits he’ll be happy to get back to focusing on his golf rather than the politics of the sport after he missed the cut in The Players Championship.
The world number three added a 73 to his opening 76 to miss the two-over-par cut by three strokes as Shane Lowry snuck in on the mark.
Former European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley reckons McIlroy needs a break from being front and centre in the PGA Tour’s battle with LIV Golf.
But while McIlroy has downplayed his work with the PGA Tour board in the past, he admitted at TPC Sawgrass on Saturday it will be nice to get back to focusing on golf now the changes to the 2024 schedule have been announced.
“Yeah, it is fair,” McIlroy said when asked if the off-course distractions had been tiring. “I'd love to get back to being a golfer, yeah.
“Look, it's been a busy couple of weeks, and it's been - 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 quieten down from here.”
McIlroy explains how he has to be careful with “time management” and had sacrificed some free time to help the PGA Tour cause.
“The golf out here, 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,” he said.
“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.”
It was McIlroy’s first missed cut for six months, but he has no plans to add an event to his schedule, admitting he didn’t enjoy the Valero Texas Open last year.
He will join Shane Lowry at Augusta National next week, then play the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin as his final warm-up for Augusta National.
“Yeah, just very blah,” he said of his jaded performance at Sawgrass. “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, and like it feels easier than others.
“It's just a tricky golf course, and you don't hit fairways and you've got your work cut out for you.
“Just it is what it is. I actually don't feel like I'm playing that badly at all. A few miscues here and there, putted it off the sixth green yesterday, and just stuff that -- just a little untidy here and there.
“But hit the ball okay. Just, as I said, this course, if you're a little off, definitely magnifies where you are.”
As for his trip to Augusta, he said his goal was to have his game in shape for next month.
“Just making sure my game is in shape for Augusta,” he said of his plans. “Making sure that I've got all the shots. Making sure that I familiarise 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.”
The Holywood star is searching for a replacement driver this season, but he does not believe he has a problem for the Masters even after finishing down the field in that department this week.
“No, it's not,” he said after a poor drive at the 18th cost him another stroke. “That's the thing as well, there's a little bit more room off the tee, and in fairness, I've been maybe trying to push the driver a bit too much up the fairway here rather than just taking a couple of clubs less and hitting 5-wood or 3-wood or 2-iron or whatever it is.
“No, but it's still -- you don't want a big mis-hit in the bag. You look at the drive I hit on 18 there, and that's way too wide for a miss.
“Just sort of things like that that I just need to work on.”