Rory McIlroy has come out in defence of the PGA Tour’s new Player Impact Program, saying it is a way to “reward the top players for engaging with the tour”.
McIlroy, 32, has sided with the PGA Tour over the new bonus scheme which will see $40million distributed amongst ten players each year in recognition of the "value they add to the overall product".
The player who leads the standings, determined by a multitude of factors such as a player’s position on the season-ending FedEx Cup points list as well as their popularity in Google Search, will receive an eye-watering $8million bonus.
Justin Rose said last week that the move from the PGA Tour was “a good thing for everybody”, while Justin Thomas said that he wouldn’t be paying the program any notice.
The Northern Irishman, who is teeing it up at the Wells Fargo Championship this week, was the latest to be quizzed by reporters on the PGA Tour’s new scheme.
“The Player Impact Program is a way to reward the top players for engaging with the PGA Tour,” said McIlroy. “But, it's not as if it's the top-10 players in the game get this money and thank you for your loyalty. There's a bit more to it.
“I think that Justin Rose made a good point, saying that a rising tide lifts all ships. I think with the top players being more engaged in the tour and the goings on, it will help the rest of the membership. That's how I feel about it.
"I think it's a great initiative by the Tour. I think everyone knows it was a little bit designed to try to appease some of the people that had their heads turned by different leagues or [the Premier Golf League]. I think it's a very prudent move on the tour's part.”
When announced, the scheme didn’t receive much in the way of a positive reaction from golf fans, many believing that the money could be better utilised elsewhere.
McIlroy, making his first start this week since being cut at the Masters, insisted that the new scheme isn’t a closed shop and believes that it is open to up-and-coming stars.
“I think it's still a possibility or there's the potential for anyone to get into this top-10,” added McIlroy.
“Like a Will Zalatoris, he was on the Korn Ferry last year, he's had a wonderful rise. He's cool, he's got a really cool look, he's young. There's a possibility, if he keeps playing the way he's playing this year, he could be in that top-10.”
The four-time major champ, who has won at the Wells Fargo Championship twice before, will be seeking to rectify his slump in the Official World Rankings this week at Quail Hollow Club as he has dropped to No.15 - his lowest position since November 2009.