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Rory supports rollback proposal despite it being 'unpopular opinion'

Harry How / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Count Rory McIlroy as a fan of the USGA and R&A's golf rollback proposal.

The "Model Local Rule," tabled by two of golf's ruling bodies, would give tours the option to limit players to a golf ball that travels about 15 yards shorter for the biggest hitters. The rule, if applied, wouldn't take effect until January 2026.

"For elite-level play, I really like it. I really do," McIlroy told the "No Laying Up" podcast Wednesday. "I know that's a really unpopular opinion amongst my peers, but I think it's going to help identify who the best players are a bit easier, especially in this era of parity that we've been living in over the past couple of decades."

Among McIlroy's peers who disagree is Justin Thomas, who argued last week that the proposal is "selfish" and would be "so bad for the game."

McIlroy says he thinks the proposal would add to the importance of using long irons and mid irons again rather than just relying on drivers and wedges.

"You're gonna see people with more well-rounded games succeed easier, I guess, than what the game has become, which is sort of bomb-and-gouge over the last few years," McIlroy said, adding that he can't remember the last time he used every club in his bag during a round.

The proposal is the latest effort by golf's governing bodies to reduce distance. Part of the reasoning is that some golf courses are running out of land to continuously push back tee boxes as technological advances allow players to hit the ball farther. In 2022, the PGA TOUR, the USGA, and the R&A implemented a rule to cap club length - excluding putters - to 46 inches.

Two of golf's four major championships - the U.S. Open and The Open - are organized by the USGA and R&A, respectively. So even if the PGA TOUR doesn't adopt the rollback proposal, at least two of the most important annual tournaments could be played with a different ball in the future.

But that still wouldn't necessarily stop McIlroy from using the Model Local Rule ball during PGA TOUR events.

"Honestly, for me, the major championships are the biggest deal, so if the PGA TOUR doesn't implement it, I might still play the Model Local Rule ball because I know that that'll give me the best chance and the best preparation leading into the major championships.

"Again, this is personal preference and personal opinion. At this stage of my career, I know I'm going to be defined by the amount of major championships that I hopefully will win now until the end of my career. That's the most important thing for me. If that gives me the best chance to succeed at the major championships and feel as prepared as I possibly can be, then that's what I would do."

McIlroy has won four majors in his career but none since 2014. He came close a year ago, finishing second at the Masters, third at The Open, T5 at the U.S. Open, and eighth at the PGA Championship.

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