'We're Fairly Paid' - McIlroy Opens Up On PGA Tour Structure

The Northern Irishman says players deserve their high earnings

Rory McIlroy speaks to the media ahead of the 2022 Players Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy has weighed in on the debate about the huge sums of money available to players. Speaking ahead of The Players Championship, the 32-year says he thinks players are paid fairly, and that the money filters down well to the lesser players.

The money in the game has been a hot topic recently, with speculation surrounding the rumoured Saudi Golf League and offers of astonishing sums to players to join it. Then, last week, the issue of players’ earnings reared its head again with the news that Tiger Woods had won the PIP award and the $8m first prize. Eyebrows were raised about the worthiness of that payout given Woods didn’t play during the period in question. The debate is compounded by the record purse on offer at this week’s Players Championship, which is the biggest in PGA Tour history at $20m, up from $15m last year. The winner will bank a staggering $3.6m.

Nevertheless, despite the enormous sums of money available to players, McIlroy doesn’t think it’s excessive, particularly compared to other athletes:  “I think we're paid as much as people are willing to pay us, I guess. You can say the same thing about footballers or any other athletes. It's like you could argue that they're paid too little or too much, but you're only worth what people are willing to pay you. I'd say at this point we're pretty fairly... we're fairly paid. The top guys earn a lot of money, and I think that's right. Even the guys that are not at the top, they still earn a really, really good living. I think it's a good structure.”

Last month, Sky Sports commentator Andrew Coltart accused players of being “tone deaf” over comments related to earnings, claiming there’s a detachment from reality considering the average golf fan’s income. However, McIlroy claimed money doesn’t come into his thinking while playing: “At the end of the season, you've got these FedExCup bonuses and stuff, it's in there. But at the end of the day, you're just trying to win a golf tournament. Whether that pays you whatever, a million dollars or one pound or whatever it is, it's trying to win a golf tournament. So it certainly doesn't enter my head.”

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.