Will Rory McIlroy Face Punishment For Missing RBC Heritage?

The World No.3 will miss his second designated event in 2023, but will he face a penalty?

Rory McIlroy acknowledges the crowd after completing his opening round of the 2023 Masters
Rory McIlroy misses his second designated event of 2023 after withdrawing from the RBC Heritage
(Image credit: Getty Images)

After Rory McIlroy’s hugely disappointing Masters performance, where he missed the cut in pursuit of a career Grand Slam, it was then announced that he had withdrawn from this week’s RBC Heritage.

No reason was given for his decision to skip this week’s event, but questions were soon asked about whether he would face punishment given it is one of the PGA Tour’s designated events.

McIlroy is one of the senior figures on the PGA Tour and, along with Tiger Woods, has been instrumental in the introduction of the higher-profile events as the Tour seeks ways to counter the LIV Golf threat. The increased purses in the tournaments and obligation of top players to compete in the vast majority of them are aimed at making them more attractive to sponsors and fans alike.

Indeed, there is a stipulation that the top PGA Tour players are only allowed to skip one of the tournaments in 2023. For McIlroy, that could be an issue, because he has already missed a designated event, January’s Sentry Tournament of Champions.

That leaves him open to potential punishment as there is a condition that the full Player Impact Program (PIP) money will only be granted to players due it if they compete in all but one designated event. McIlroy has been named in the top three of the PIP in both of its years so far, and it’s inconceivable he won’t feature again. So, will he face a penalty for missing the Harbour Town tournament?

As is often the case, it’s not quite as simple as that. The winner of the PIP in the first two years was Tiger Woods, despite his limited time on the course. That is unlikely to change given his ongoing injury concerns, which most recently forced his withdrawal from The Masters due to a flare-up of his plantar fasciitis.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has already confirmed Woods will not be subject to penalties for missing designated events. So, will McIlroy also escape punishment if his withdrawal is due to injury? It may not even need that reason.

At the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Monahan was asked what would happen should a player other than Woods miss more than one of the tournaments, with McIlroy given as an example, and he explained it was a matter of discretion. That’s something golf journalist Alan Shipnuck has reiterated since his withdrawal.

He wrote on Twitter: “Don't fret, Rory will get his PIP $$ no matter how many elevated's he skips. Tiger, too. I asked Monahan about this, he said, ‘I have discretion, okay? I'll work with our team, I'll understand the situation, and we'll make a decision.’ Per PIP slush fund, he has absolute power.”

McIlroy has been tireless in his support of the PGA Tour since the emergence of LIV Golf and has defended it for large swathes of many of his pre-tournament press conferences. Given his huge influence on the Tour and commitment to speaking in its favour, it seems unlikely that he will be hit by a financial penalty for skipping this week’s event, regardless of the reason.

If that proves to be the case, perhaps the bigger question will be whether Monahan is prepared to punish other players who may be entitled to PIP money should they also choose to miss more than one of the events. Or, will the example of McIlroy set a precedent?

Regardless, this is only set to remain an issue in 2023. When the PGA Tour announced it will introduce limited-field, no-cut events for 2024, it also confirmed the removal of mandatory participation regulations.

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.