- Rory McIlroy has no sympathy for Race to Dubai rival Willett
- The 26-year-old played only 12 events instead of required 13
- "That was the decision the European Tour came to," he said
Rory McIlroy says he has no sympathy for nearest Race to Dubai rival Danny Willett and the rest of the chasing pack as he looks to hoist up the Harry Vardon Trophy for the third time in four years come Sunday afternoon.
The 26-year-old remains at the summit of the Race to Dubai standings, despite not playing in the BMW Masters last week, with Willett unable to finish inside the top 28 needed to take him to the top.
And after receiving a special exemption from Keith Pelley to play only 12 events instead of 13 – a bold move from Pelley and one of his first actions on becoming chief executive of the European Tour – McIlroy was asked whether he felt any sympathy for players who have met the criteria, to which his response was clear.
“No. If I can win more money in 12 events than someone can win in 23, I don’t see any reason why – I played half the events and won more money,” said Rory McIlroy. “That’s the decision the European Tour came to and obviously it’s great for me that I’m able to be here and compete this week.
“I didn’t quite think I’d be in this position coming into this event, especially after taking last week off. But a few of the guys didn’t capitalise on that in China thankfully and I find myself in a position where it’s totally in my hands. If I go out and win the tournament, I win overall no matter what anybody else does, and that’s a nice position to be in.”
But what does Willett, twice a winner on the European Tour this season at the Nedbank Golf Challenge and Omega European Masters, think of the Rory situation?
Well, the Englishman believes that ultimately, Pelley made the right decision but thinks McIlroy is at a huge advantage coming into the tournament fresh while he and fellow players have been playing regularly for the past few weeks.
“I appreciate that him playing makes a massive difference for the Tour and you have to kind of let him off with the events, but certainly he has more of an advantage over the guys who have played all three and this will be the fourth,” said Willett.
“There's a lot of travelling, a lot of golf, time changes, sleeping patterns, everything like that can really take its toll – especially at the end of a season. At the beginning of the season, maybe not, but this is the 52nd week of the season, and I think having had a week off might have benefitted him.
“But if Rory wins more money than anyone else playing less events, then that's just good golf. There are still rules to kind of abide by, otherwise they wouldn't make rules. If rules were allowed to be broken all the time, then there's no point in setting them in the first place. But in that case, it was a very difficult one to kind of get correct, and it was the first decision Keith had to make in becoming commissioner of the Tour. I think he made the correct decision.
“Regardless of what Rory’s been doing in preparation, we've still got a goal in mind to go out there and beat him and that's what we've got to look at.”
Rory McIlroy :: Sympathise with Willett?
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