'Could You Imagine Bringing The Best 70 Or 80 Golfers In The World To India For A Tournament?' - Rory McIlroy Reiterates Global Tour Hopes

The World No.2 has backed India as a destination for an elite tournament if the future of the game goes global following the PGA Tour/PIF merger

Rory McIlroy hits a bunker shot
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy is hoping to win back-to-back Dubai Desert Classic titles this week to lift the iconic trophy for the fourth time, which would take him ahead of Ernie Els.

The four-time Major champion spoke to the media on Wednesday morning at Emirates Golf Club, where he again reiterated his desire for the future of golf to go global, while admitting his focus is "firmly back on stuff inside the ropes" after quitting the PGA Tour's policy board last year.

The PGA Tour and DP World Tour are hoping to complete the framework agreement with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund by the Spring, where golf is set to have a new future - and potentially a more global one.

"I think I've certainly got a little more time to putt into my game I think," he told media.

"Yeah, and I'm probably a little unburdened with some of the things that I was going through over the past couple of years. So yeah, to me, I feel like my focus is firmly back on stuff inside the ropes, and that is a really nice feeling."

With McIlroy no longer holding a seat at the top table, it does leave the PGA Tour's board without any European representation. Will Europe and the DP World Tour get left behind in negotiations? "I certainly hope not," he said, while backing Adam Scott as international representation and echoing Keith Pelley's words that the game needs to go global.

"I think the growth of the game is global," Pelley, who leaves his position as DP World Tour CEO in April, said this week. "That's where the focus needs to be."

Rory McIlroy and Keith Pelley chat on the range at the Dubai Desert Classic

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"We do have Adam Scott [on the PGA Tour Board], which is an international representation, which I think is important. I think Keith was saying to you guys yesterday, I think the opportunity here is global, and I think you'd be very naïve to not think that way.

"Especially if you see, you know, even you look at the event at Kapalua a couple of weeks ago, which is supposed to be one of the big signature events and you see the ratings that that did on TV, it's not - you know, I would say they were quite underwhelming compared to some of the other events.

"I think the opportunity here is global. Look, they are still massive events in America and I think they have huge history and tradition and they need to be kept. But there's a lot of opportunity elsewhere, and I think with Adam being on the board and seeing maybe the bigger picture of things, I think that's a good thing."

One destination for McIlroy's ideal global golf calendar could be the growing market of India, which is starved of elite golf. The country hosts the men's and women's Hero Indian Opens on the DP World Tour and Ladies European Tour and is home to some promising players like Aditi Ashok, Shubhankar Sharma, Dikshar Dagar and Gaganjeet Bhullar, as well as LIV Golf's Anirban Lahiri.

McIlroy is proposing something bigger for India, a country he says he has never visited.

Rory McIlroy and Dr Manjal at the Dubai Desert Classic

McIlroy and Hero MotoCorp CEO Dr. Manjal played together in the Hero Dubai Desert Classic Pro-Am

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"Absolutely. I spoke to Dr. Munjal [Hero MotoCorp CEO] on the course about it today," he said on the prospect of elite golf going to India.

"You know, if this global tour somehow comes to fruition in the next few years, could you imagine bringing the best 70 or 80 golfers in the world to India for a tournament or, you know, that - I think would change the game and the perception of the game in a country like that.

"So again, there's so much opportunity out there to go global with it, and I've said this for the last few months, but golf is at an inflection point, and if golf doesn't do it now, I fear that it will never do it and we'll sort of have this fractured landscape forever. As I said I hope it all works out."

"We've talked about it," he said on whether Dr Munjal has invited him to play in India.

"But look, with how the golf calendar is at the minute - and that's the other thing that needs to be looked at. There's so many different golf tournaments that happen at different times, and it's going to be very hard for everything to piece together but it's a country that I've never been to and one that I would like to visit at some point in my life."

The Dubai Desert Classic tee times have been released, with McIlroy playing alongside Nicolai Hojgaard and Adam Scott in the first two rounds.

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2 HL

Irons: Mizuno MP-H4 3-iron, Mizuno MP5 4-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5