Rory McIlroy says current crisis could be catalyst for world golf tour

World No 1 reckons game 'needs to be simplified' at top level

World No 1 Rory McIlroy spearheads a strong field for the Charles Schwab Challenge, which marks the PGA Tour's return after a three-month shutdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Picture: Getty Images

World No 1 Rory McIlroy believes the Covid-19 crisis could be the catalyst for change in golf, including a possible merger between the European Tour and the PGA Tour.

"I think for the health of both tours, a world tour is something I've always wanted," said McIlroy, speaking as he prepared to take part in the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas.

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"I think this pandemic has highlighted the fact that the game of golf at the highest level needs to be simplified.

"I think there's too many funnels, there's too many channels. I don't know if everything being under one umbrella is the solution, but definitely fewer umbrellas I think is a way forward."

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley were part of discussions earlier in the year with the R&A, USGA, Augusta National and PGA of America that led to a revamped schedule from August onwards.

"Trying to sort of figure out everything as we've been going along, I think the major championship organisations and the bigger governing bodies in the game of golf have realised that there's so many moving parts, and I think more cohesion in the game is better," added four-time winner McIlroy.

"I'm not saying that it (the coronavirus lockdown) has been a good thing, but, at the same time, I think it's opened some people's eyes up to the fact that we can all sort of work a little bit better together in this world."

McIlroy spearheads a strong-field at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth for the PGA Tour's first event since 12 March.

Monahan revealed that the first week of a new testing protocol for players and caddies had delivered "all negative tests" and the event will be played with social distancing measures in place.

"I think it's an important week because golf can show that we can play in a socially distant manner," said McIlroy. "We can conduct a tournament and adhere to all the safety protocols that have been put in place.

"It is going to be very easy to fall back into old habits because it's just what we've done. I'd say for the viewing public just to give the players and the caddies a little bit of leeway in terms of if they see something on TV that isn't quite right. We're having to figure it out as we go along, as well.

"But I think golf can show that it can be played, especially at the highest level, and adhere to the guidelines that everyone else has to adhere to."

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