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This week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions marks the first of 13 elevated events on the 2022-23 PGA Tour schedule, a development spearheaded by Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods with the goal of rewarding top players with larger purses and more lucrative payouts. Considering these increased purses wouldn’t exist without McIlroy’s activism, you would think the Northern Irishman would be front and center in Hawaii this week to debut the new series.

Only, he won’t.

So, why isn’t Rory McIlroy playing in the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions?

Why isn’t Rory McIlroy playing in the Sentry Tournament of Champions?

A new era of the PGA Tour has arrived. This weekend, the elevated event series will commence with the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua. There will be 13 elevated events (17 including majors) on the 2022-23 PGA Tour schedule, and every golfer who finished in the top 20 of the Player Impact Program in 2022 is required to play in at least 12 of them.

Not only will this development reward the best and most popular golfers with more prize money, but it will also ensure those same golfers will compete at the same events more often than in previous years.

McIlroy was the main figure who helped bring about the change, so it was a bit surprising when his name didn’t appear in the official field for the first elevated event of the season. So, why isn’t the World No. 1 playing at Kapalua this week?

Well, the answer is quite simple. Players who qualified for the elevated events are allowed to miss one of the 13 tournaments this season, and McIlroy decided to skip the first one. This wouldn’t be a shock any other year considering the 33-year-old typically gives himself a lengthy offseason. McIlroy has only played in the Tournament of Champions one time in his career despite qualifying for the event nearly every year.

Instead, McIlroy will make his 2023 debut on the DP World Tour later this month at the Dubai Desert Classic. The Northern Irishman may not be in Hawaii to unveil the elevated event series, but he won’t miss another one for the rest of the season, barring injury, of course.

Rory McIlroy could lose his World No. 1 ranking this week

Rory McIlroy hits an approach shot during the DP World Tour Championship.
Rory McIlroy plays his second shot on the 18th hole during the second round of the DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates | David Cannon/Getty Images

The Match 2022: Who Has the Highest Net Worth Between Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, and Jordan Spieth?

McIlroy made a controversial decision to skip the first elevated event of the season, and it could cost him the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking. Scottie Scheffler, who’s currently the World No. 2 in the OWGR, will overtake McIlroy if he finishes solo third or better at Kapalua this week.

McIlroy stole the No. 1 spot from Scheffler after winning the CJ Cup back in October, but he may not be the highest-ranked player in the world the next time he tees it up on the PGA Tour.