Rory McIlroy backs PGA Tour's call to pay tribute to George Floyd

June 10, 2020

Rory McIlroy has praised the PGA Tour’s decision to pay tribute to George Floyd and would like to see more racial diversity in the sport.

The PGA Tour resumes after a 91-day absence on Thursday at the Charles Schwab Challenge, live on Sky Sports, where play will be halted for a minute and the tee time left vacated - in honour of Floyd - at 8.46am local time (2.46pm BST).

Floyd died on May 25 after a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck, sparking global protests against police behaviour towards black people, with McIlroy encouraged to see golf following other sports in offering their respects.

"I think what the PGA Tour has done with the moment of silence at 8:46am and not using that tee time is a wonderful gesture," McIlroy told a pre-tournament press conference.

"My hero growing up was Tiger Woods. Tiger doesn't look the same as me, has had a very different upbringing to the one that I have had, but he was my hero growing up, and it didn't matter what colour his skin was, what his beliefs were.

"Tiger was my hero, and he's been a lot of kids' heroes over the years that have grown up playing golf. We've been very lucky to have him in our game.

"I think that there should be more people like him in golf, and I think what the conversation that Jay [Monahan] and Harold Varner had about these issues I think really hit home with me.

"Harold said that it maybe just isn't about the players, it's about everyone in the game of golf. There's so many people that are involved with the game, and as long as we continue to give people from different backgrounds opportunities to be in golf, that can only be a good thing."

McIlroy is part of a star-studded field at Colonial Country Club, the first of four PGA Tour events set to be played behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The world No 1 has previously expressed concerns about playing a Ryder Cup without spectators, although is more relaxed about fan-free events on the PGA Tour.

"Obviously playing in front of no fans at a Ryder Cup is very different than playing in front of no fans at a PGA Tour event," McIlroy added "Look, it'll be slightly different.

"It'll be a little eerie that you're not getting claps and you're not getting feedback from good shots and stuff like that, but I think at the same time, it's what we have to do.

"It's what we're going to have to live with for the foreseeable future, and if that's what I have to adapt to be able to get out here and play on Tour and get back to work essentially, then I'm happy to do that."

The four-time major champion was on a run of seven consecutive worldwide top-fives before the sports' enforced stoppage, with McIlroy - who won the TaylorMade Driving Relief alongside Dustin Johnson last month - relishing the chance to return to competitive action.

"It [three months of no PGA Tour] actually gave me an opportunity to work on a few things," McIlroy said. "I spent 90 days in a row at home for the first time in my adult life.

"I'm eager to get back and I'm eager to play and get back into competition mode, but I'm sort of -- expectation-wise, we'll see how it goes. I feel like I'm as sharp as I can be coming in here.

"I've played a lot of golf over the last few weeks and I've practiced a bit. My game seems to be there. It seems to be there at home anyway, so if it's there at home, there's no reason why it shouldn't be there when I get out here."

Watch the Charles Schwab Challenge throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage begins with Featured Groups on Thursday from 12.45pm on Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event.

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