McIlroy 'under pressure' to compete at this week's British Masters

He said his late entry to the tournament is in a bid to avoid being accused of receiving favourable treatment by the European Tour.

McIlroy speaking to the media earlier today.
McIlroy speaking to the media earlier today.
Image: Owen Humphreys

RORY MCILROY REVEALED on Wednesday that he came under pressure from the European Tour to add this week’s British Masters to his injury-affected schedule.

Last week McIlroy confirmed he would contest just a second British Masters in his career — 10 years to the month after the enormous fanfare of turning professional at the same event.

The four-time Major winner was asked by British Masters host Lee Westwood at Sergio Garcia’s wedding in Texas if he would compete this week.

“Lee actually asked me at Sergio’s wedding back in July if I was thinking of playing, and at that point and I said I wasn’t thinking of playing,” said McIlroy.

“I was hoping to be in the Tour Championship last week and sort of taking this week off and then playing the Dunhill next week. But obviously I didn’t make the Tour Championship, so needed to add one more in, and this was the obvious one.”

McIlroy required an invitation to tee-up on Thursday at the Close House course near Newcastle in northeast England, given he had missed the cut-off date for applying formally through the Tour.

The Northern Irishman, 28, had said while competing on the PGA Tour that his only tournament on the European Tour ahead of “shutting down” his season and allowing his rib injury to properly heal would be next week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.

British Masters - Pro-Am - Close House Golf Club Source: Owen Humphreys

Players are required to compete in a minimum of five European Tour-sanctioned tournaments outside the Majors and the World Golf Championships to retain membership of the tour.

It has been known since the start of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoff Series in August that the European Tour was unhappy that McIlroy would not be contesting the mandatory five “regular” events — without the British Masters he would have competed in four tournaments.

“They (European Tour) are having trouble understanding I need to shut down my season,” said McIlroy ahead of the Northern Trust Open on Long Island.

“I want to play Ryder Cup next year so I’ve got to play my five events in Europe,” McIlroy said on Wednesday.

“So that was a big decision into that. There’s minimum tournaments you need to play and stuff like that, and I’ve sort of been quite close to the edge on minimums and stuff the last few years. So I didn’t really want to put the European Tour in another sticky position.”

© – AFP, 2017

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