McIlroy backs controversial golf ball proposals

By Sports Desk March 22, 2023

Rory McIlroy supports the controversial proposals that would see new golf balls introduced to tackle ever-increasing driving distances.

The R&A and United States Golf Association (USGA) last week proposed a "Model Local Rule" that would allow organisers and tournaments the option to use a modified ball that reduces hitting distance by approximately 15 yards.

The move was first mooted in 2020 as a way of decreasing the distance modern tour professionals hit the ball amid fears golf courses will soon not be long enough to provide a suitable test in elite competitions. 

The proposals have been met with widespread criticism from manufacturers and players alike, with Justin Thomas last week describing the move as "so bad for the game of golf."

However, four-time major champion McIlroy, who is currently playing at the World Golf Championships Match Play in Texas, is not so angry. 

Speaking to No Laying Up, he said: "For elite-level play, I really like it. I really do.

"I know that's a really unpopular opinion amongst my peers, but I think it's going to help identify who the best players are a bit easier. Especially in this era of parity that we've been living in these past couple of decades.

"Selfishly, I think it helps me. I think this is only going to help the better player. 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."

Martin Slumbers and Mike Whan, the heads of the respective organisations, confirmed the rule would not be implemented until 2026 but would then be introduced for their elite events – the Open Championship and the U.S. Open.

There is no obligation for the PGA Tour to adopt the rules, but McIlroy suggested he might still consider using a rolled-back ball in regular-season events to better prepare for the majors. 

"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'll give me the best chance and the best preparation leading into the major championships," he added. 

"And again, this is personal preference and personal opinion at this stage of my career. I know that I'm going to 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."

Related items

  • McIlroy set for break after toughest day of career in US Open collapse McIlroy set for break after toughest day of career in US Open collapse

    Rory McIlroy intends to take a break from golf after his US Open collapse as the Northern Irishman bemoaned the toughest day of his career following further major disappointment at Pinehurst.

    The four-time major champion has not triumphed in one of golf's top events since 2014 at the PGA Championship.

    McIlroy came within touching distance of ending that decade-long wait on Sunday but fell short in disappointing circumstances as Bryson DeChambeau claimed the US Open title by a shot in North Carolina.

    The 35-year-old McIlroy managed to bogey three of his final four holes in the last round at Pinehurst's No.2 course, including a woeful miss from a short putting distance on the 18th.

    DeChambeau was left to save par with an impressive up-and-down from the near-side bunker, leaving McIlroy to rue another missed opportunity on the major stage.

    "Yesterday was a tough day, probably the toughest I've had in my nearly 17 years as a professional golfer," McIlroy wrote on social media.

    "Firstly, I'd like to congratulate Bryson. He is a worthy champion and exactly what professional golf needs right now. I think we can all agree on that.

    "As I reflect on my week, I'll rue a few things over the course of the tournament, mostly the two missed putts on 16 and 18 on the final day.

    "But, as I always try to do, I'll look at the positives of the week that far outweigh the negatives. As I said at the start of the tournament, I feel closer to winning my next major championship than I ever have.

    "The one word that I would describe my career as is resilient. I've shown my resilience over and over again in the last 17 years and I will again."

    McIlroy was expected to play in this week's Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

    However, the world number two confirmed he will not feature as McIlroy prepares for a break after suffering a brutal blow to his major hopes.

    "I'm going to take a few weeks away from the game to process everything and build myself back up for my defence of the Genesis Scottish Open and The Open at Royal Troon," he concluded.

    The Scottish Open does not start until July 11, leaving McIlroy with almost a month to recover from this setback.

  • DeChambeau excited for more McIlroy battles following U.S. Open glory DeChambeau excited for more McIlroy battles following U.S. Open glory

    Bryson DeChambeau is looking forward to more final-round battles with Rory McIlroy following his second U.S. Open triumph at Pinehurst on Sunday. 

    DeChambeau headed into the final round in North Carolina with a three-shot lead over the field, but soon found himself two behind the Northern Irishman three holes into the back nine. 

    A birdie at the 13th regained the American's composure, with McIlroy making bogey in three of the last four holes, including an agonising miss on18 to hand DeChambeau the victory. 

    The fifth major title continues to elude McIlroy, last winning at the 2014 PGA Championship, but DeChambeau labelled the world number two as one of the best to play the game and is excited for future tussles on the golf course. 

    "Rory is one of the best to ever play," DeChambeau said. "Being able to fight against a great like that is pretty special. I'd love to have a lot more battles with him.

    "I have nothing but respect for how he plays the game of golf... to be honest, when he was climbing up the leaderboard, I was like, 'Uh-oh', but luckily things went my way today.

    "For him to miss that putt [on the 18th], I'd never wish it on anybody.

    "I'm sure it will fuel Rory's fire even more. He's a strong-minded individual. He'll win multiple more major championships, there's no doubt."

    McIlroy's missed putt at 18 opened the door for DeChambeau to capitalise, but a wayward drive left him hunched under a tree, forcing him to punch out to a greenside bunker to set up a nervy finish. 

    However, the American would produce a moment of magic to place the ball within four feet of the hole, going on to say it was the shot of his life. 

    "That bunker shot was the shot of my life," DeChambeau reflected.

    "I knew where Rory was. After my tee shot, I was up there going, 'Man, if he makes par, I don't know how I'm going to beat him'. I just really didn't know.

    "Then I heard the moans. It was like a shot of adrenaline got in me. I said, 'Okay, you can do this'. I'm so happy I got that shot up-and-down."

  • McIlroy's U.S. Open misses will haunt him for the rest of his life, says Faldo McIlroy's U.S. Open misses will haunt him for the rest of his life, says Faldo

    Rory McIlroy's shocking misses at the U.S. Open could haunt him for the rest of his career, believes six-time major champion Nick Faldo.

    McIlroy looked to be in pole position to end his 10-year major drought on the final day of play at Pinehurst on Sunday, as four birdies in a five-hole stretch gave him a two-shot lead over Bryson DeChambeau.

    However, things unravelled for the Northern Irishman in spectacular fashion, as he missed a putt from less than three yards to save par on the 15th.

    Despite following that up with a bogey on the 16th, McIlroy still shared the lead with DeChambeau as he approached the final hole.

    He then missed another four-foot putt to hand the initiative to DeChambeau, who produced a brilliant bunker shot then made no mistake for his own close-range par, clinching his second major title by a single shot.

    McIlroy left Pinehurst without speaking to the media as DeChambeau celebrated his second U.S. Open crown in the last five editions, and Faldo believes he may never fully get over his misses.

    "That's going to haunt Rory for the rest of his life, those two misses," Faldo said in his role of co-commentator for Sky Sports.

    "It was an unbelievable finish. That was a four of all fours to finish from Bryson and the celebration of all celebrations! 

    "Rory will be broken-hearted, so I feel for him. He's going to be gutted, absolutely gutted."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.