Lee Westwood responds to Rory McIlroy’s criticism

Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood has revealed that he has spoken to Rory McIlroy after contentious comments made by the world No.1 last week.

Speaking ahead of the RBC Heritage, McIlroy said he doesn’t understand why some of his fellow players have decided not to play on the PGA Tour whilst COVID-19 quarantine restrictions remain in place.

“If you really care about your career and care about moving forward, you should be here,” said the Northern Irishman, adding that it’s “not a hardship” to travel to the US and quarantine for two weeks before playing.

Although he didn’t mention him by name, it could have been construed that McIlroy’s remarks were aimed, at least in part, at Westwood.

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He, along with the likes of Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood, has decided not to travel to the US for the PGA Tour’s first few events since emerging from its coronavirus-enforced hiatus.

Speaking to Worldwide Golf, the former world No.1 said that he had reached out to McIlroy following his comments.

“I did send Rory a text and we had a little chat about his comments,” said Westwood. “He’s probably had a rethink.

“It seems like the rest of the world is treating this pandemic a more seriously than the United States. You listen to people who talk about where the last PGA Tour event was [Hilton Head Island] and they say the area is open with people eating in restaurants and the beaches are packed while the rest of the world is still basically on lockdown.”

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The issue has been made more complex by the decision to re-start the Official World Golf Rankings with the return of the PGA Tour.

That, according to some, puts European Tour players at a distinct disadvantage, with that particular circuit not set to resume play until next month. Scotland’s Bob MacIntyre, for example, has slipped from 67th to 75th in the last two weeks, despite not having hit a ball and having nowhere to play.

Westwood added: “Rory’s entitled to his opinion but what he fails to explain in there is that only handful of European Tour players are eligible for those PGA Tour events. European players ranked from 50th upwards couldn’t get in those events and that’s the issue with the world ranking starting up.

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“You’ve got all these American players playing in these events for world ranking points and they’re going to go past the Europeans in the OWGR because they have no tournaments to compete in.

“The world ranking is very important in regards to getting into the majors and the World Golf Championships and that to me doesn’t seem fair that the Europeans, South Africans and Australians that play on the European Tour lose out purely because of a global pandemic that’s hitting the world.”

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