World No 2 insists he's doing 'right thing' by bypassing Euro events
European Tour set-ups are "too easy," insists Rory McIlroy and for that reason, among others, he'll likely play a US-centric schedule again next year.
The world No 2 birdied his last six holes on the Old Course, having started on the 10th, to close with a 67 in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
But while he tied for 26th with Pádraig Harrington on 15-under par, seven shots behind winner Victor Perez, McIlroy and his father Gerry were edged out for the Pro-Am prize on a pro-card countback by American businessman Ogden Phipps and Tommy Fleetwood, whose 64 trumped McIlroy's 67.
McIlroy did not enjoy losing out in the team title race and took the opportunity to justify his decision to keep his European Tour appearances to a minimum.
"Winning the FedEx Cup was validation of my decision to play more in the States," McIlroy was quoted as saying by 'Golf Digest' after team McIlroy shot 61 and tied with Fleetwood and Phipps, who shot 62, on 39-under.
"I'm getting stick [for not playing more in Europe], but I'm turning down millions of dollars [by not going] to Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia because I want to do the right thing. I want to play on the courses I want to play at. I don't think I should get stick for that because I feel like I'm doing the right thing."
He insisted he had no great desire to travel, especially to Europe, where he feels his good golf has gone unrewarded. "I've done it for 12 years," he said. "I want to have easy flights and not have to go across eight, nine time zones and have to get acclimatised. I'm happy to do what I've done this year."
Fleetwood won the $50,000 pro-am prize on a card countback from McIlroy, which the Holywood star felt that was unfair. "It should be the lowest team score and we would have won it," added McIlroy, who took a swipe at what he feels are unexacting European Tour course set-ups.
"I'm honestly sick of coming back over to the European Tour and shooting 15-under par and finishing 30th," McIlroy added after what was his fifth event in Europe this year. "I don't think the courses are set up hard enough. There's no penalties for bad shots. It's tough when you come back when it's like that. I don't feel like good golf is rewarded as well as it could be."
Asked if he'd be airing his concerns with anyone, he said: "I hope so. It happened at the Scottish Open, as well, Renaissance, I finished 13-, 14-under and finished 30th again. It's not a good test. I think if the European Tour want to put forth a really good product, the golf courses and set-ups need to be tougher."
While he missed the cut on two-over in The Open at Royal Portrush, he's 53-under for his four non-Major starts in Europe and averaged 18th place, compared to three wins averaging 10-under in the US.
The €732,265 top prize and Ryder Cup points went to Frenchman Perez (and the caddie bonus to McIlroy's ex-bagman JP Fitzgerald), who shot 70 to Matthew Southgate's 71 to win by one stroke on 22-under. Shane Lowry was the best of the Irish, tied for 15th on 17-under after a 68 (€56,292), extending his Race to Dubai lead over Jon Rahm, who missed the cut.
On the Challenge Tour, Ardglass' Cormac Sharvin continued his run of consistent form with a 24th-place finish in the Hopps Open de Provence.
Sharvin (26) closed with a six-under 66 to finish nine shots behind maiden winner Lars van Meijel from the Netherlands. Sharvin remains sixth in the race for 15 European Tour cards after making ten of 13 cuts this year.
Philip Walton was 59th as Argentina's José Coceres held off Paul Lawrie to win the Austrian Senior Open on the Staysure Tour.
Douglas' Peter O'Keeffe claimed the Irish Mid-Amateur Championship by one stroke at Royal Belfast while Warrenpoint won the Irish Junior Foursomes at Castledargan, defeating Blainroe by five holes. Tullamore retained the Irish Boys Inter-Club Championship while Roscommon beat Muskerry 3-2 to win the Fred Daly Trophy at Castle Dargan on Saturday.
Leona Maguire took a giant step towards clinching her LPGA Tour card when she tied for fifth in the Symetra Tour's IOA Golf Classic in Florida.
Slieve Russell star closed with a three-under 68 to clinch her seventh top-10 this year, finishing seven shots behind Spain's Marta Sanz Barrio on six-under-par.