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Fact or Fiction: This is Rory McIlroy’s Best Chance to Win a Green Jacket

SI Golf's writers and editors reconvened after the Players to discuss ongoing PGA Tour/PIF talks and look ahead to the season's first major.

Welcome to another installment of SI Golf “Fact or Fiction,” where our next staff meeting will be in the Bahamas.

Each week we post a series of topical statements for writers and editors to declare as “Fact” or “Fiction” along with a brief explanation. Responses may also (occasionally) be “Neutral” since there's a lot of gray area in golf.

Do you agree or disagree? Let us know on the SI Golf X account.

Jay Monahan confirmed that PGA Tour Policy board player directors met Yasir Al-Rumayyan in the Bahamas, calling it “constructive” but offering no more details. The PGA Tour commissioner also reiterated the need to not negotiate in public, but his membership is entitled to know more.

FACT. Keeping things secret didn’t help Monahan much before and being able to share as much as possible seems the prudent path forward. A disclaimer: folks talk, and that was the reason why Monahan kept things so guarded prior to the “framework agreement” being announced. This is not an easy path to navigate. —Bob Harig

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan speaks prior to the 2024 Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan continues to offer few details on negotiations with the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund. 

FICTION. Keeping your membership informed and part of the process is two different things. The players elected a PAC and a board, they have to trust them to do the right thing.—Alex Miceli

FACT. Throw ‘em a bone! No need to imperil the talks, and anything he share with the players with inevitably (and rapidly) leak to the press, but players want to feel like part of a process here. There’s gotta be a few crumbs to offer them.—Jeff Ritter

FACT. If this was my livelihood, I'd want to know how these winds are blowing. Especially if I was a player down in the pecking order in this signature event era. And, selfishly, of course someone would talk and that's good in my actual livelihood.—John Schwarb  

One sportsbook has Scottie Scheffler at even money to win a major this year. This is the gambling equivalent of a gimme.

FICTION. There’s a reason the bookies drive nice cars and live in mansions. What seems like a sure thing rarely is. Yes, Scheffler looks incredibly formidable and if he continues to putt just decently, he’s going to be right there in the majors. I thought the same thing last year. It doesn’t always work out that way.—B.H.

FICTION. Of course after dismantling two elite fields at Arnold Palmer and the Players, Scheffler would clearly be anointed as the new Tiger Woods, which would clearly mean the Texas grad would win a major. But add in the LIV players—that by the way will be defending two of the four majors this year—and I like the under.—A.M.

FACT. I assume the gimme is to take “field” over Scheffler correct?—J.R.

FICTION. Not saying I don't think a Scheffler major is a done deal in 2024, I just dislike that betting strategy. At DraftKings, his major odds right now are +450/Masters, +650/PGA, +650/U.S. Open, +800/British Open, and I'd rather chase those payouts.—J.S.  

Rory McIlroy hit watery tee shots on two holes in Round 1 at the Players, leading to prolonged conversations with his playing partners about where the balls crossed hazard lines. This tournament has had similar high-profile situations before and there has to be a better way to figure them out.

FICTION. Unless you have overhead cameras on every single hole with lateral penalty areas—which seems a big ask—these sorts of issues will occur. TPC Sawgrass happens to have several holes with this problem, which is the most difficult ruling and drop situation there is to get right. Ultimately, the best thing is for those in the group to do their best to sort it out.—B.H.

Rory McIlroy prepares for a shot on the 9th tee during the final round of the 2024 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass  in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Rory McIlroy finished T19 in an eventful week at the Players. 

FACT. The distances make it impossible to see where a drive of over 300 yards crosses a hazard line. How could McIlroy or playing competitors Jordan Spieth and Viktor Hovland made a clear determination? Easy answer: they can’t, which means the rules of golf need a look, again.—A.M.

FACT. Ultimately players have to make these calls themselves, but in the meantime let’s get some better camera angles on some of those watery corners.—J.R.

FACT. With so much data instantly available with ball flights and course mapping, it’s crazy to see players sometimes have 100-yard differences of opinion in these spots. The Tour can take the lead at its flagship event to figure out a better way.—J.S. 

McIlroy said he would play more leading up to the Masters and just finished three straight weeks: T21 at the Cognizant Classic, T21 at Bay Hill and T19 at the Players. Those are positive results as Augusta beckons.

FICTION. McIlroy himself is not satisfied with those results. After two strong performances early in the year in the Middle East—including a victory in Dubai—he’s not shown much in five U.S. PGA Tour starts. McIlroy has been fighting a miss with his irons and, having seemingly figured that out during the first round at the Players, inexplicably had issues with the driver that led to several water balls. He’s got time to get that cleaned up and plans to play the week prior to the Masters at the Valero Texas Open. Perhaps having something to focus on will serve him well this time.—B.H.

FACT. That’s 12 rounds to work off the rust on three difficult golf courses with more water than the Great Lakes. What’s most important is if McIlroy feels comfortable with his game and is checking off the boxes of what he needs to do before the Masters. If this plan works or not will be played out over four days in Augusta.—A.M.

FACT. He’s in good form but hasn’t peaked. Looks like full speed ahead from here.—J.R.

NEUTRAL. We discussed Rory's plan for more reps in January, I went neutral there and am sticking with it. Unless you’re named Scottie Scheffler, there are things to clean up and McIlroy has some of those, but there are no reasons for alarm as we close in on April.—J.S.