Rory McIlroy explains his 'selfish' opinion after going back to an old flame

Rory McIlroy has offered his 'controversial' opinion on the idea to rollback the golf ball for elite players from 2026. 

Ben Smith's picture
Wed, 22 Mar 2023
Rory McIlroy explains his 'selfish' opinion after going back to an old flame

Rory McIlroy says he backs the proposals to rollback the golf ball, highlighting a chat with the chairman of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club a few years ago. 

McIlroy, 33, who will use some new equipment before the WGC Match Play, believes that overall the plans to reduce how far the golf ball will fly for the best players in the world will be of overall benefit to the game. 

His comments stand in contrast to some of his peers, who have absolutely blasted the idea to implement a model local rule (MLR), that will would increase the test speed for golf balls used at elite competitions from the current 120mph to 127mph.

Justin Thomas 'ranted' on this subject for several minutes before the Valspar Championship. Sam Burns joined in, criticising the 'silly' idea. 

Unsurprisingly, equipment manufacturers TaylorMade and Titleist have questioned the idea put forward by the two governing bodies that write golf's rules. 

Related: Who is Rory McIlroy's wife?

In an exclusive interview with No Laying Up before taking to Austin Country Club, McIlroy explained why he was in favour of the idea. 

He understands that his opinion will be 'controversial'. 

In the interview McIlroy explained:

  • He was 'adamant' he didn't want the governing bodies touching the recreational golfer because, 'We need to make this game as not as intimidating and as much fun as possible'. 
  • McIlroy believes, 'selfishly', that the roll back will help the better players in the world such as himself. 
  • A chat with the Ian Hewitt, the chairman of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club, helped convince him the idea would be good. In tennis, they slowed the ball down and made the grass much stickier. "And then you fast forward three years from that and you've got Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal playing one of the greatest Wimbledon finals ever," McIlroy said. 
  • If he takes his PGA Tour hat off, he believes this is the best thing for the major championships.

McIlroy told the podcast:

"I think this is only gonna help the better player. You know, it might help the longer player too, in some ways. But I think it's going to help the overall professional game. I think making guys hit some long irons again, and some mid irons, and being able to hit every club in your bag in a round of golf. … I can't remember the last time when I've had to do that. I don't know if this change in the ball will make us do that, but it certainly is a step closer to that."

Scroll down... 

Why does his opinion differ from his peers?

"I think my opinion differs from my peers, and probably the PGA Tour as a whole. And obviously, look, this is just my opinion and I'm only one voice. But honestly, if I'm taking my PGA Tour hat off here, the major championships are already such a big deal in the game of golf, and if the major championships somehow adopt this ball change, and the PGA Tour doesn't, I think it widens that gap between PGA Tour golf and major championship golf. Which, if anything, the PGA Tour is trying to make up some sort of market share, or trying to get a little closer to the major championships in terms of the interest that we create within our tournaments."

Scroll down... 

What about the majors?

McIlroy said:

"Honestly, for me, the major championships are the biggest deal, so if the PGA Tour doesn't implement it, I might still play the Model Local Rule ball, because I know that that'll give me the best chance and the best preparation leading into the major championships. And again, this is personal preference and personal opinion at this stage of my career. I know that I'm gonna be defined by the amount of major championships that I hopefully will win from now until the end of my career. And that's the most important thing for me.
"If that gives me the best chance to succeed at the major championships and feel as prepared as I possibly can be, then that's what I would do."

Elsewhere, McIlroy has been testing out a Scotty Cameron Newport GSS before taking to Austin Country Club. 

McIlroy used the flat stick to claim the first two of his four majors before signing a deal with Nike. 

He told Golf that he was trying to 'rekindle an old flame'. 

Click here to read the full No Laying up article

Take me to more news