Rory McIlroy called it “a slap in the face” for James Hahn to miss Tuesday’s player meeting after Hahn had strongly criticized the PGA Tour’s new format of play announced for 2024.
“Like, you say all this s— and you’re not even in the meeting?” McIlroy said of Hahn. “If you want to get informed and be a part of the process … the fact that he wasn’t even in the room was a slap in the face to everyone there.”
McIlroy made his remarks immediately after his news conference Tuesday at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, where he and Hahn are competing at the Players Championship this week.
During a phone interview with Golfweek on March 4, Hahn, 41, criticized the plan by the PGA Tour to change to a new designated event model in 2024, which is largely seen as a response to the controversial Saudi-backed LIV circuit having poached some PGA Tour players.
“I hate them,” Hahn told Golfweek of the changes. “I’m gonna say exactly what 99.99 percent of fans said about players leaving for the LIV Tour. If our players just said, ‘We’re doing this for the money,’ I would have a lot more respect for them. But how they’re covering up what they’re doing and trying to make it a thing about sponsors and fans and saving opposite-field events. I think that’s all BS.”
The system of designated events went into play this year, aimed at keeping players on the PGA Tour. The tour raised the minimum purse at each of these events to $20 million.
Now, the PGA Tour has tinkered with the tournaments further. In the 2024 season, each designated event will have a field of between 70 and 80 players, with a guarantee to play all four rounds for purses of $20 million or more.
“Right now, they’re just covering their ass and saying everything that the PGA Tour basically has trained them to say, have taught them to say and try to make it not about money when everyone knows 100 percent it’s about more guaranteed money being funneled to the top players in the world,” Hahn told Golfweek. “We’ve been talking about money for the last two years, and for them not to say that that’s not the No. 1 reason why they’re making these changes — it’s very, very hypocritical.”
Hahn hasn’t won since the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship and has missed 13 cuts since last year’s Players Championship. He qualified for the Players this year because he finished 113th in the FedEx Cup standings in 2022.
McIlroy, 33, is ranked No. 3 in the world after finishing a shot behind leader Kurt Kitayama last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He could become No. 1 with a victory this week at TPC Sawgrass.