(Reuters) – After missing the cut at the Players Championship on Saturday, Rory McIlroy said he is looking forward to spending more time being a golfer rather than being the figurehead of the PGA Tour’s feud with LIV Golf.
Until this week’s Players Championship at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, McIlroy had done a decent job of juggling his duties as a leading voice on the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council and the world’s third ranked golfer.
But the workload markedly increased this week with the rolling out of the PGA Tour’s revamped tournament structure, which McIlroy was integral in communicating with and explaining to members, while preparing for golf’s unofficial fifth major.
“I’d love to get back to being a golfer,” McIlroy said after completing his weather delayed second round on Saturday. “Look, it’s been a busy couple of weeks, and it’s been — honestly it’s been a busy sort of six or eight months.
“But as I said at the start of the week, everything has sort of been announced now, and the wheels have been put in motion, so it should obviously quieten down from here.
“I’m ready to get back to being purely a golfer.”
Coming off a tie for second at last week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, McIlroy had been tipped as one of the favourites to claim the PGA Tour’s flagship event and the $4.5 million winner’s purse.
But the Northern Irishman, winner of the Players in 2019, never hit his stride on the Stadium Course. He stumbled out of the gate with a double bogey on his first hole followed by a bogey on his second.
An opening round four-over 76 was followed by a marginally better 73 but still left the 33-year-old on five-over and well off the two-over cut line.
It marked the first time McIlroy has missed a cut at a PGA Tour event since the FedEx Cup playoffs St. Jude Championship last August.
“Just very blah,” said McIlroy summing up his play.
“You just have to be really on to play well here.
“If you’re a little off, it definitely magnifies where you are off. It is, it’s a bit of an enigma.
“Some years I come here, and like it feels easier than others.
“It’s just a tricky golf course, and you don’t hit fairways and you’ve got your work cut out for you.”
McIlroy’s attention now will turn to Augusta National and the year’s first major, the April 6-9 Masters.
A four-time major champion, McIlroy can complete the career grand slam by winning what has been an elusive Green Jacket.
“Just making sure my game is in shape for Augusta,” said McIlroy. “Making sure that I’ve got all the shots.
“Making sure that I familiarise myself with the golf course again and go up there for a couple of days.
“From now all the way until the start of April, it’s really just all about getting ready for Augusta.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)