CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA | Just to clarify, when Rory McIlroy said Wednesday that the Masters is now the biggest golf tournament in the world and he “doesn’t care” about the U.S. Open or the Open Championship, he didn’t mean it the way it sounded.
“I didn’t mean it like that at all. I meant like I sort of was trying to say like if you look at where the U.S. Open and the Open were compared to the Masters 50 years ago, they were bigger golf tournaments,” McIlroy said Thursday after opening with 68 in the first round at the Wells Fargo Championship.
“Now, I think after everything that’s happened over the past 50 years and the improvements that Augusta makes year on year, I feel like the amount of time between the last major of the season, the first major of the season, the hype, the eyeballs, the everything, I think it’s just a slight – it’s just a notch above the other ones. I don’t know if that’s because we return to the same venue every year and there’s a nostalgic feeling for everyone because of that, but that’s what I was trying to say.”
Not that television ratings are the only measure but the Masters is annually the most-watched golf tournament of the year and it’s the event that seems to capture the most fans outside the game as well. When it comes to major championships, though, each of them is precious, McIlroy suggested.
“I care deeply about those other ones,” McIlroy said. “I’m a proud winner of both of those tournaments. I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful at all. I was just trying to say that from where those tournaments were in stature in this game to where now the Masters is, I feel like the Masters has replaced those two tournaments. And that’s not to take anything away from the PGA (Championship) as well. I just think (the Masters) stands alone in terms of the four majors and that’s all I was trying to say.”