• European Tour had withdrawn its sanctioning of the Akron event
• French Open counts for two of five events needed for membership
Rory McIlroy has snubbed the chance of adding a third WGC title to his name by committing to the 100th French Open.
The four-time major winner, who won at Akron in 2014, has opted to play at Le Golf National two weeks before the Open Championship, believing that playing at the 2018 Ryder Cup venue will provide better preparation for Royal Troon.
“I feel that playing in the 100th Open de France at Le Golf National will be the best way to get ready for the Open, which is just two weeks after the French Open,” he said. “Le Golf National might not be a pure links course, but it is traditionally firm and fast and can throw up some tricky conditions.
"Playing there, as well as staying in Europe, will offer the best conditions to prepare for the Open" - Rory McIlroy
“It’s a great test of golf and I think playing there, as well as staying in Europe, will offer the best conditions to prepare for the Open at Troon."
Of course, there are likely to have been other motives in the Northern Irishman’s decision to tee it up at Le Golf National.
Following the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational’s schedule change due to golf’s return to the Olympics, European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley made the bold decision to withdraw its sanctioning of the WGC event, meaning money won at Akron will not count for Ryder Cup points or towards the Race to Dubai.
Pelley also revealed that the French Open would count as two of the five tournaments outside majors and WGC events which players now need to play to fulfil their membership, another likely reason why Florida-based McIlroy has opted for France.
This will mark only the third time he has played in the tournament, coming close in 2010 by missing out on a three-man play-off by a single stroke.
Rory McIlroy :: Victory for Keith Pelley?
Are you surprised by Rory McIlroy’s decision to pick the French Open over the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational? And what does this say about European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley? Leave your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section below.