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McIlroy intrigued by ideas but not sold on potential alternative tour

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SAN DIEGO – Officials unveiled plans for an alternative professional tour this week that would feature limited fields and deep purses but at least one star player appears reluctant to embrace the concept at the moment.

Following his third round at the Farmers Insurance Open, Rory McIlroy was asked about the Premier Golf League, which has proposed an 18-event schedule that could begin in 2022 or ’23, and he revealed that he’s been talking with officials from the upstart circuit for six years.

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“These guys [the Premier Golf League] have exploited a couple of holes in the system the way golf at the highest level is nowadays and how it's sort of transitioned from a competition tour to entertainment, right? It's on TV, it's people coming out to watch,” McIlroy said. “It's definitely a different time than what it was before.”

McIlroy is exactly the star player the new league would need for the circuit to be successful, but the Northern Irishman stopped well short of endorsing the concept.

“I love the PGA Tour, I love the way golf is set up right now,” McIlroy said. “I certainly wouldn't want to lose what's been built in the last 40 or 50 years, tournaments like this, tournaments like Riviera in a couple weeks' time, everything that we have gotten to know and love over the years.”

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McIlroy did add, however, that some of the concepts that have been introduced by the league are worth exploring and could lead to adjustments to the current system.

“It might be a catalyst for some changes on this tour that can help it grow and move forward and reward the top players the way they should be, I guess,” he said.