LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The reporter was unable to complete the inquiry.
“Are you sick of discussing it and—”
Rory McIlroy stated, “Oh, I’m so sick of it.”
The Super League is a professional football league in the United Kingdom. Saudi Arabia. The staggering sums of hard currency.
It’s all there.
McIlroy was in town for the Genesis Invitational, one of the PGA Tour’s higher-profile events. Tiger Woods, his boyhood idol, is hosting the tournament, which has a prize pool of $12 million. It’s being held at Riviera, which most players consider to be the nicest venue they’ll see all year. And the stars have arrived, with 19 of the top 25 competitors, making this the most competitive field in six months.
Despite all of the whispers and conjecture about an existential threat, everyone seemed to be talking about a breakaway circuit that is nothing more than an ongoing recruiting operation.
As a result, there is dissatisfaction, annoyance, and impatience — at least among those who support the Tour.
Collin Morikawa stated, “All we want is for something to be said.” “We have no idea what’s going on.” We’re all simply guessing and speculating — when is this, when is that, what date is it? It’s all a mystery. That’s what I believe we’ve had enough of. It’s annoying to be in the dark about things, and it’s just an uncertainty, so why keep talking about it until something is said?”
Thursday should have been a nice remedy for those suffering from SGL fatigue.
The weather was perfect: 66 degrees, bright sunshine, with a gentle breeze that made this masterpiece even firmer, quicker, and crustier to play.
Jordan Spieth, a bona fide PIP needle-mover, had shared the early lead with Scottie Scheffler, last week’s winner and a fellow Texan with whom he’d battled countless of times, before Joaquin Niemann shot a late-afternoon 63. Morikawa, the two-time major champion, fired back with another chance to become world No. 1 at the age of 24. Justin Thomas, the reigning Players champion, was also in the 66th round.
They’re all under the age of 28.
The Saudis’ advances have been rebuffed by all. (Niemann, on the other hand, refused to discuss any future negotiations.)
All of them have made long-term commitments to the PGA Tour.
They’ve made their choice and set up their flag. Their next ten years in the sport appear to be jam-packed with legacy-making opportunities and earnings potential. As they begin the first glitzy event of the year, it’s easy for them to see the greater picture.
“It would be here if I had to pick one non-major or Players Championship to win on the PGA Tour,” Spieth said.
He’s considering Riviera, which is “in the conversation as the top golf course in the world.” It’s also an invitational, attracting the greatest athletes from around the world. And, of course, Woods is a part of it.
“But you all know how much I love Tiger, and no offense to him,” Thomas continued, “but I don’t think people come here for him.”
With pre-8 a.m. tee times, Spieth and Thomas hadn’t seen the latest bombshell report, in which Phil Mickelson told golf writer and author Alan Shipnuck that the Tour is, among other things, “manipulative” and a “dictatorship,” and that here, at long last, was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape the entire operation.
Thomas had already heard enough of the tale when a reporter tried to give him the gist of it. Thomas appears to share McIlroy’s disdain for the current state of affairs: the squabbling, blustering, and bluffing. “I’ve heard a lot of stuff about a lot of players that are done with everything but still stick around,” he remarked. “Clearly, they aren’t done yet.”
Thomas’ tone made it plain that he is unconcerned about potential defections.
He said, “I’m very, very happy with what’s going on.” “I play golf to leave a legacy and win as many tournaments on the PGA Tour as I can.”
This week, Thomas has another chance to win on a famous course in front of a host he’s always wanted to please. All that counts to him is that he’s completely focused on the task at hand, and that those who are distracted don’t stand a chance.