McIlroy In Agreement With Woods Over Ceremonial Role

The 33-year-old says he doesn’t see a role as a ceremonial golfer in his future

Rory McIlroy takes a shot before the 2023 Genesis Invitational
Rory McIlroy doesn't see life as a ceremonial golfer in his future
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy has admitted he doesn’t see a future in the game as a ceremonial golfer once his ability to compete at the top level has waned.

McIlroy is preparing for the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club. The stakes are high this week, too. Not only is he up against some of the world’s best players, but he has a chance to regain the World No.1 position he relinquished to Scottie Scheffler after last week’s WM Phoenix Open.

Before thoughts turned to that, though, McIlroy considered a future away from competing to win tournaments, and whether he could envisage a role as a ceremonial golfer.

He said: “The answer that I want to give you is that I love the game enough to be OK with being a ceremonial golfer, but I don't know if my competitive drive in this game - I'm not a very competitive person, I only really am competitive in golf, but I don't know if that competitive drive towards this game would let me be happy not contending to win golf tournaments. That to me is a pretty frustrating place to live when your entire career you've strived towards trying to win golf tournaments."

McIlroy explained he thinks there will be other ways he can enjoy the game. He said: “If I want to play golf, I can play it at home with my friends and my family and enjoy it that way. I don't think you would need to struggle in front of thousands of people to enjoy the game of golf, so I'd sort of be in a similar boat to Tiger in that regard.”

Woods, who is preparing for his first tournament of the year, was asked a similar question yesterday, and said: “If I'm playing, I play to win. I know that players have played and they are ambassadors of the game and try to grow the game. I can't have my mind, I can't wrap my mind around that as a competitor. If I'm playing in the event I'm going to try and beat you. I'm there to get a W, OK?”

While McIlroy is still relatively young at 33 and arguably close to his best form, Woods is 14 years his senior and has struggled with injury since a devastating car accident two years ago. However, he doesn't think Woods will be stepping back from the game, even when he eventually stops playing. He said: "I think Tiger will still hang around the game forever. You think about his presence... still being around golf and making his presence felt doesn't necessarily have to mean hitting the golf ball in tournament play."

McIlroy also admitted that regaining the World No.1 slot is a motivating factor for him this week. He said: “I've got a chance to get it back this week. You know, hopefully it's a bit of a sort of hot potato thing where me, Scottie and Jon [Rahm] sort of pass it around a little bit because it means we're all playing great golf.”

McIlroy, Woods and Justin Thomas are grouped together for the opening round of the tournament. The trio tee it up at 3.04pm ET (8.04pm GMT).

Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

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.