September 18th 2022 will mark 15 years since Rory McIlroy turned pro. For those in the know in golf circles in his native Northern Ireland, there was an acknowledgment that the then 18-year-old was a special talent.
Within weeks – while McIlroy was still an associate member of the European Tour – Tiger Woods was on the phone, inviting McIlroy to play at the 2007 Target World Challenge. McIlroy soon broke into the world top 100, and, well, we know the rest.
Today, of course, “Rory” is one of the best in the world. We know he can be gloriously frustrating at times, a player whose purple patches of form can last for months, weeks, or, seemingly, minutes.
When he is at his best – see his remarkable 2022 Tour Championship win. From start to finish, the event was McIlroy in a microcosm, with the Northern Irishman having a horrendous start (he was 10 strokes behind Scottie Scheffler at one point) before getting his act together to create a stirring comeback.
McIlroy Has Become Symbol for Anti-LIV
Of course, while McIlroy’s celebrations were emphatic, you can also gather that the PGA bigwigs were glad to see the unpredictable McIlroy on top of his game.
There is no bigger cheerleader for the PGA Tour than McIlroy, and it’s the organisation’s most formidable weapon as it faces the challenge from the LIV Tour.
McIlroy has not just been firm in his assertions that he won’t be joining – he has been openly critical of those who have joined.
It’s not a great look for the PGA when LIV rebels are winning tournaments, particularly Majors.
Cameron Smith had not yet declared he was going to join LIV when winning The Open in July, but he refused to deny it in the post-tournament press conference. That became one of the main stories after the event. It’s a headache for the PGA, and it could get worse.
Major Contenders Have Mostly Remained Loyal
The good news is that the majority of the world’s top players are still sticking with the PGA. Indeed, if we look at the golf betting odds for the Masters, and the rest of the Majors next year, it’s only Smith that sticks out among the top of the betting markets.
McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Scheffler, and Justin Thomas look like they are going to hold firm. However, others, like Patrick Cantlay, could be wavering.
If we were to see McIlroy bring his rich vein of form into 2023, it would be a huge victory for the PGA. If he were to pick up a Major or two, then even better.
Conversely, if we see players like Smith coming to the Majors, winning, then heading back to LIV, it would be something of a disaster for the PGA’s marketing.
Of course, we aren’t saying that it’s all up to McIlroy alone. As mentioned, there are other players loyal to the PGA. But McIlroy has become emblematic of the anti-LIV stance, and his continued good form can only benefit the PGA’s cause.
We should remember that so much of this depends on narrative. Each player might face an individual decision to join LIV, but there is also the question of how each tour is perceived.
If those loyal to the PGA keep winning, then it creates good vibes. Having McIlroy at the top of his game is certainly what the PGA will be wishing for in the coming years.
RELATED: What’s In Rory McIlroy’s Bag?
The Golf Reviews Guide team provide honest analysis of courses worldwide, information on the best golf destinations to visit, reviews the latest products and golf equipment and up to the minute golf news from the tours.