Sport Golf

Sunday 25 February 2018

Rory McIlroy hails Tour move to introduce blood-testing


McIlroy: “I don’t think anyone should be fearful as I don’t think that golf has any sort of drug problem at all.” Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
McIlroy: “I don’t think anyone should be fearful as I don’t think that golf has any sort of drug problem at all.” Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

James Corrigan

As Rory McIlroy delivered an unforgettable drugs rant at the Open last year, declaring that "blood-testing needs to happen if golf wants to be seen as a mainstream sport", it was no surprise to find him applauding the game's adoption of a more rigorous anti-doping system.

The PGA Tour has revealed that, from October, it will introduce blood-testing, as well as aligning its list of prohibited substances with that of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

It is understood that the European Tour will soon announce that it is following suit.

On the eve of last year's Open, McIlroy made the point that he and his colleagues could get away with taking Human Growth Hormone because of the laxity of the testing.

And although the PGA Tour confirmed that urine-testing would remain the "predominant method", there will now, at the very least, be a chance of HGH cheats being caught.

"If we're not blood-testing we're not doing all we can to make sure golf is a clean sport, so I obviously welcome the news," McIlroy said.

"I don't think anyone should be fearful as I don't think that golf has any sort of drug problem at all."

A more pertinent factor might be the decision no longer to keep certain player sanctions confidential.

Currently the Tour only discloses the information of suspensions and fines for performance-enhancing drugs and not those related to recreational drugs.

McIlroy made his comments on the eve of the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, where the 28-year-old will be hoping to recover some good form before the Open at Birkdale next month, having missed the cut at the US Open.

However, he admitted that he suspected this season would be difficult before he injured a rib ahead of his first event in January.

"I always felt 2017 was going to be a bit of a transitional year, with Nike going out of the equipment business and getting married, moving and changing residences, and all that sort of stuff," McIlroy said "I didn't factor an injury into that as well.

"The first 10 years of my career is nearly over. It's still got two Majors (left) and I'd like to finish it well.

"But if I look back over my first 10 years as a pro, am I happy with where my career's at? Yes, I guess. But I definitely feel like, in the next 10 years, that I can do better."

The field for the 66th edition of the Travelers also includes Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Bubba Watson and defending champion Russell Knox, who holed a 12-foot par putt at the 18th to seal victory last year.

Knox and Watson will play with Australian Marc Leishman and tee off at 12.50pm local time (5.50 Irish time), with Spieth among the following group.

There are morning starts for England's Paul Casey and Pádraig Harrington, whose three-balls get under way at 7.40am (12.40 Irish time). Harrington will start at the 10th, where McIlroy, Furyk and Brian Harman are due to enter the fray 10 minutes later. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

BMW International Open,

Live, Sky Sports 4, 10.30am/2.30pm

Travelers Championship

Live, Sky Sports 4, 8.30pm

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