McIlroy's money remarks off-putting, but honest

By Rex HoggardSeptember 25, 2015, 10:02 pm

ATLANTA – To pluck a phrase from the modern lexicon, this week at East Lake is all about making it rain, and not just the steady drizzle that put a damper on the PGA Tour’s swansong on Friday.

In theory, players have 10 million reasons to take this week, and these playoffs, seriously. It's a financial reward that would be life changing for your average 9-to-5’er.

This week’s FedEx Cup champion will collect a $10 million bonus – which is actually $9 million in cash and another $1 million in deferred retirement benefits – in addition to their Tour Championship earnings, which in the case of Billy Horschel last year added up to an $11.44 million.

Not a bad gig if you can get it.

The powers that be at the PGA Tour have used the multi-million dollar carrot to purport the importance of the postseason and this week’s ATM Open, but then this is the same group that traded earnings as the game’s ultimate litmus test for points when they invented the playoffs.

The problem with using money as motivation for the game’s top stars is that golf, at least at the highest competitive levels, is a victim of its own success.

It was the point Rory McIlroy was trying to make this week when he was asked what impact the $10 million prize would have on him late Sunday if he found himself in contention.

The fallout from McIlroy’s comment, at least in the social media space, has been swift and severe; but in his defense, it’s an opinion he’s come by honestly and shares with many of his Tour frat brothers.

There is also something to be said for taking McIlroy’s words in their entirety and full context, which is not always the case in a sound-bite society.

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“Luckily, that amount of money doesn't sort of mean much to me anymore,"  he said on Wednesday. "It will go in the bank and if I want to buy something nice, I will. It's nice to think that you could win $10 million this week, but that's not what excites me.”

“It excites me to play well and to try and win. And the FedEx Cup is one of the only things that I haven't put on my golf CV, and that would be more exciting to do than walk away with a check.”

While those living paycheck to paycheck may bristle, financial security came early for McIlroy and many modern professionals.

In just his fifth full year on Tour, he’s earned $28 million in prize money. In 2013, he signed a five-year deal with Nike that is reportedly worth between $100 million and $200 million. He also has lucrative endorsement deals with Omega and Bose and regularly collects six- and seven-figure appearance fees.

Moreover, McIlroy’s take isn't unique among the game’s best and brightest when it comes to the big bonus.

“I haven't thought a whole lot of how a little bit may be used in the near future, but I think the biggest thing is trying to cap off a great year so far,” Rickie Fowler said.

Henrik Stenson, who won the season-long race and $10 million jackpot in 2013, was also less interested in the payday than he was his performance.

“If you are thinking too much about the outcome and the money, that's going to be in your way,” Stenson said. “I am just going to go out and try my hardest and hopefully give myself a chance to make it two in three years. I'm sure we can figure out a way to spend a bit of money if we come to that point.”

Even Jason Day, who is notoriously frugal with his finances, didn’t put much thought into how the super-sized check would change his lifestyle.

“I might buy a few more V-neck [sweaters] from Target. That's usually what I do, right? I don't really spend money, mate,” said Day, who began the week perched atop the FedEx Cup point list.

Sergio Garcia spoke clearly through his actions this postseason when he skipped the first two FedEx stops to rest, a move that kept him from advancing to the Tour Championship.

McIlroy’s comments certainly qualify as clunky, which is surprising considering that the four-time major champion has proven himself particularly savvy when it comes to avoiding media miscues. But the only thing you need to know about the 26-year-old is that his current views on wealth have nothing to do with what was by any measure a salt-of-the-earth upbringing in a Belfast suburb.

McIlroy’s father, Gerry, worked three jobs, and his mother, Rosie, worked too to give young Rory a chance to pursue his golf dreams. Holywood Golf Club, where he learned to play the game, is squarely on the blue collar side of the country club scene.

McIlroy certainly could have chosen his words more carefully regarding the possible financial windfall that awaits on Sunday, but he couldn’t have been more honest or more correct.

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.