McIlroy Hits Back At PIP Critics

The 32-year-old, who finished third on the controversial list, says he doesn’t have a problem with the award

Rory McIlroy plays a shot during the pro-am of the 2022 Arnold Palmer Invitational
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy has hit back at criticism of the inaugural Player Impact Program, which has been won by Tiger Woods. The PIP sees $40m distributed among the top 10 players to “recognize and reward players who positively move the needle” but despite criticism of both the award itself and how the winner was determined, McIlroy doesn’t think it is warranted.  

McIlroy, who finished third on the PIP list to claim $3.5m, explained why he doesn’t see a problem with the award. Speaking at this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, he said: “You look at the 10 guys that are on there, and they’re the 10 guys that have been at the top of the game or have been around the top of the game for a long time.”

News of the award was received with scepticism on its announcement last year, with one player telling Golfweek at the time that “most players feel it is a shoo-in money grab”. Then, earlier today, even though he didn’t criticise the concept, PGA Tour professional Kevin Na was one of the first to voice his disapproval. He took to Twitter to question how Tiger Woods had won the $8m first prize considering his lack of competitive action in 2021.

The PIP ranking is determined by five metrics - the player’s popularity in Google Search, the value a player delivers to sponsors, the familiarity and appeal of a player’s brand, the value a player drives through social media engagement and the global media coverage a player receives. McIlroy doesn’t see any of those factors as controversial. 

“Obviously, everyone’s seen the five metrics that go into it and how everyone ranked in those metrics. I feel like it’s a pretty self-explanatory system. That’s how the numbers rolled out. It’s certainly not something that I’m checking up on every week to see where I’m at but I think it went the way most of us expected it to go.”

As the controversy over the award continues, McIlroy will be hoping to add to his PIP windfall with the $2,160,000 first prize at this week’s Arnold Palmer Invitational. The 32-year-old won the tournament in 2018, and, with the Players Championship coming next week, he’ll want to go into the unofficial fifth Major in the best possible form. 

Mike Hall
Mike Hall

Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.