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Rory McIlroy labels R&A and USGA Distance Insight Project report as ‘waste of time and money’

“The money that it’s cost to do this report could have been way better distributed to getting people into the game, introducing young kids to the game, introducing minorities to the game”

By Keith Jackson

Rory McIlroy has issued a damning verdict on the Distance Insight Project report issued by the R&A and USGA, describing it as “a waste of time and money”.

McIlroy looked stunned, and somewhat disappointed, that his pre-tournament press conference ahead of the Phoenix Open drew to a close without him being asked for his opinion on the recent update proposals regarding equipment.

It was announced on Tuesday that golf’s governing bodies intend to limit the length of a driver shaft to 46 inches, two inches shorter than the current legal limit, while plans to combat increasing distance in golf will focus on “specific areas of interest” while detailing “three proposed changes to the Equipment Rules”.

Response from professionals has been mixed, with big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau welcoming the proposed changes to equipment regulations while Webb Simpson insisted course design needs to be modified instead of clubs and balls.

McIlroy was clearly determined to express his opinion on the matter when the media moderator at his press conference in Arizona attempted to wrap up proceedings.

“No one asked me an equipment question, I would be here all day for that,” said McIlroy, and after the microphones were switched back on, he did not hold back with his criticism of the R&A and USGA.

“I think the authorities, the R&A and USGA, are looking at the game through such a tiny little lens,” he said. “What they’re trying to do is change something that pertains to 0.1 per cent of the golfing community, yet there are 99.9 per cent of the people that play this game who play for enjoyment, for entertainment. They don’t need to be told what ball or clubs to use.

“We have to make the game as easy and approachable as possible for the majority of golfers. Honestly, I think this distance insight report has been a huge waste of time and money.

“The money that it’s cost to do this report could have been way better distributed to getting people into the game, introducing young kids to the game, introducing minorities to the game.

“I heard [USGA executive director] Mike Davis say something about we’re trying to protect the game for the next hundred years. This isn’t how you do it. This is so small and inconsequential compared to the other things happening in the game.

“It’s the grassroots. It’s getting more people engaged in golf. That’s where they should be spending their money, not spending it on the distance insight report. Thank you for asking the question!”

McIlroy would support the implementation of bifurcation, and “local rules” for professional events, reiterating the average golfer should not be penalised and treated the same as a professional.

“I would be all for that. If they want to try to make the game more difficult for us, or try to incorporate more skill to the game, yeah, I would be all for that,” he added. “Because I think it only benefits the better player, which I feel like I am.

“I think maybe they said that in terms of local rules and maybe some sort of bifurcation, but we are such a tiny portion of golf. Like golf is way bigger than the professional game, we are such a tiny part of it.

“It’s the other stuff that really matters, and that’s the stuff they need to concentrate on.”

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