World number three Rory McIlroy vowed to turn his focus away from sports politics and back to the game after he missed the cut at the Players Championship on Saturday.
McIlroy ended his storm-interrupted second round on Saturday, carding a 73 that left him on five-over-par and out of the competition’s final two rounds.
The Northern Irishman has been the most prominent opponent of the rival LIV Golf League and has been involved heavily in the PGA Tour’s meetings to restructure the circuit next season.
But the 33-year-old said it was “fair” to say that the off-course focus had taken a toll.
“I’d love to get back to being a golfer again,” he said. “Look, it has been a busy couple of weeks and, honestly, it has been a busy sort of six or eight months. But everything has sort of been announced now, and the wheels have been put in motion, so it should quieten down from here.”
The PGA Tour announced last week that next year’s schedule will feature eight “designated events” with limited fields, no cuts and bigger purses and McIlroy had been the main spokesperson selling those changes.
While his troubles at TPC Sawgrass have mainly been caused by his driver, he said the distractions haven’t helped him have a solid routine.
“It’s just the time management. 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,” McIlroy 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.”
Former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley told Golf Channel he felt that McIlroy had coped well with his extra responsibilities but that his game showed signs of fatigue.
“One of the features of his golf over the past 14 months has been his ability to focus. We’ve admired this from a distance, with everything going on and him front and center. It’s quite incredible what he’s achieved,” McGinley said.
“I just think Rory is tired and the battery is down. We saw some clumsiness from him here and that’s a sign that you’re not focused.”
The Irishman suggested that McIlroy’s work in supporting the overhaul of the PGA Tour should be shared around.
“This is not Rory’s Tour. It’s not Tiger’s Tour. It’s not (commissioner) Jay Monahan’s Tour,” McGinley said.
“This tour is owned by the players, and if this is going to work and these new ‘designated events’ are going to work, everybody has got to go row in behind.
“They can’t just have one spokesperson and let him take all the bullets. Everybody has got to be in there supporting and driving this ship forward.”
McIlroy might, however, find it hard to avoid the topic of the rival tour at his next big test at Augusta National next month.
Unlike at the Players, the PGA Tour players will be competing in the same field as the breakaway LIV players at the Masters.