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Rory McIlroy says key to new Player Impact Program is being 'engaging'

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan went on the defensive Tuesday at Quail Hollow Club in the wake of reports that a proposed Saudi Arabian-backed circuit was actively recruiting some of the Tour’s biggest stars.

According to one player who attended the meeting, anyone who agrees to play the new tour will be suspended immediately and “likely” expelled from the PGA Tour. The player also described Monahan as “adamant.”

Monahan also took the opportunity to point out the financial benefits of playing the Tour and the new Player Impact Program, which will split a $40 million bonus pool among the circuit’s top 10 players based on various engagement measurements.

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The commissioner described the new program as a “partnership” with the circuit’s top players and a chance to grow the entire Tour. On Wednesday, Rory McIlroy provided the best example of how the program could benefit a player.

“There's the potential for anyone to get into this top 10, right? I was making this point yesterday. Like a Will Zalatoris, he was on the Korn Ferry [Tour] last year, he's had a wonderful rise. He's cool, he's got a really cool look, he's young,” McIlroy said. “There's a possibility, if he keeps playing the way he's playing this year, he could be in that top 10. And to think about that, to think about this kid that's coming up that was on the Korn Ferry like a year ago and could make that top 10, I think that's pretty cool.”

McIlroy, who is the Tour's player advisory council chairman, also put a fine point on exactly the type of player the new program hopes to reward.

“As Arnold Palmer said it, every person you meet, look them dead in the eye, give them the time of day,” McIlroy said. “If Arnold were still around, he would be No. 1 in that impact program for the next 50 years because of just how he was with people. That's what's popular. It's being engaging.”