Can you hear that tolling noise in the background? Why it’s the sound of the death knell ringing on the proposed Premier Golf League (PGL). Well, perhaps.

In a savage blow to the ambitions of those behind the money-soaked PGL, Rory McIlroy last night became the first big name player to publicly rule himself out of joining the breakaway circuit. “For me, I’m out,” he declared in a press conference ahead of this week’s WGC-Mexico Championship. For those involved with the PGL, this must have been as sobering as being thwacked on the shin with a 7-iron.


The PGL has been the talk of the golfing steamie for the last few weeks since the ambitious, if somewhat clandestine, World Golf Group unveiled plans for an elite, 48-man world tour offering prize money of some £183m spread across 18 events.

A number of the game’s leading lights had not instantly rejected the idea of the PGL which led to worried high heid yins at the PGA Tour and European Tour issuing stern, finger-wagging warnings about players losing their rights on the respective circuits.

Olympic champion Justin Rose had said that there are "a lot of incentives for the guys to be interested" while Tiger Woods, who the PGL would need to have on board in order to set sail, admitted last week that he was still “looking at it.”


It’s McIlroy, though, who has emerged as the first to completely poo poo the idea. Will there be a domino effect? Who knows, but the current world No 1’s declaration will ring loud and clear.

"The more I've thought about it the more I don't like it,” said the four-time major winner "The one thing as a professional golfer in my position that I value is the fact that I have autonomy and freedom over everything that I do.

"This (the WGC-Mexico) is a perfect example. Some guys this week made the choice not to come to Mexico. If you go and play in this other golf league you're not going to have that choice.

"I read a thing the other day that said if you take the money they can tell you what to do, so if you don't take the money they can't tell you what to do.”


McIlroy has always been his own man and his openness and honesty on a variety of issues remains an admirable trait in an age when sporting superstars can be as bland as an unbuttered cream cracker.

The PGL is, apparently, being bankrolled by a vast Saudi Arabian war chest and that would certainly not sit easily with the Northern Irishman. The 30-year-old did, after all, sidestep the European Tour’s event in Saudi Arabia this season on moral grounds.

He was offered a significant appearance fee to play in the Kingdom but he looked at the wider issues. The PGL’s gold-encrusted carrot on a stick is not for him either.


“Money is the easy part,” McIlroy said. “It shouldn’t be the driving factor. Look, for some people it is. And we’re professional golfers and we’re out here playing golf to make a living. But at the end of the day, I value my freedom and my autonomy over everything else.

“I think that's my thing - I've never been one for being told what to do and I like to have that autonomy and freedom over my career and I feel I would give that up by going to play this other league."