McIlroy cleared to play in Euro Tour’s lucrative Final Series
Rory McIlroy’s position as the European Tour’s box-office attraction persuaded new Tour chief executive Keith Pelley to copperfasten the presence of the world No 1 in the Race To Dubai Final Series.
McIlroy’s ankle injury, which kept him out of the Scottish and British Opens and the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, has curtailed his schedule this year.
Under the Tour rules for minimum appearances, he would have missed out on the lucrative climax to the season if Pelley had not awarded him a special exemption. Nobody will argue with the decision. Tour officials, sponsors, fans and players want to see McIlroy at his best and contending for the biggest prizes in the sport.
It would have been ludicrous if a technicality had ruled McIlroy out of the Race to Dubai finale, particularly as he was the 2014 winner and currently leads the 2015 standings.
To date, he has played nine times in European Tour-sanctioned events, and would have needed 13 for the season to carry on to the Race to Dubai Final Series which begins with the Turkish Airlines Open from October 29-November 1.
Pelley said: “These are exceptional circumstances and I have taken this situation and the resulting decision very seriously. I have spent the last two weeks examining every angle and every possible solution and I have spoken with Rory and his team, as well as independent medical advisers and some prominent players.
“After reviewing and discussing all the medical reports and recommendations from orthopaedic surgeon Dr Andrew Adair, physiotherapist Dr Steve McGregor and our chief of medical staff Dr Roger Hawkes – while at the same time recognising that Rory is a world golfer with global commitments – I am convinced that he could not commit to any further tournament participation without risking further injury and persistent weakness to the ankle in the future.
“Therefore, after lengthy discussions, I have given him approval to play a minimum of 12 European Tour events this year.”
McIlroy made an unexpectedly early comeback from a ruptured ankle ligament injury at Whistling Straits in the US PGA Championship from August 13-16.
He said afterwards: “The residual swelling that just sort of comes from activity, that probably won’t go away for another two or three months, but it’s nothing to worry about.”
McIlroy took a couple of weeks off for further rehab and practice after Whistling Straits. He resumes his challenge for the FedEx Cup in the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC in Boston which starts tomorrow and finishes on Monday.
Meanwhile, on the European Tour, the year-long battle for Ryder Cup ranking points starts in Moscow at the M2M Russian Open today.
Irish competitors in the field are Damien McGrane, Brian Casey, Michael Hoey, Kevin Phelan, Peter Lawrie and Niall Kearney.
M2M Russian Open, Live, Sky Sports 4, 1.0