You know how it is with football: in the middle of summer even in non-World Cup or non-Euros years, when there is absolutely no football being played, it is still all over the sports pages – who’s moving to where, who’s taking over at So & So United? You know the score. In a way, it’s little bit like that in golf right now. There hasn’t been a tournament concluded on the two main tours since the caravan arrived at Bay Hill (PGA Tour) and Qatar (European Tour) in early March. But there’s no getting away from Rory McIlroy.
On Sunday he was at Seminole in Florida, playing with Dustin Johnson against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff in the TaylorMade Driving Relief Skins Game, which raised over $5.5 million for coronavirus-related causes. McIlroy’s team won, of course, thanks to his tee shot, of course, on the first extra hole. That day the Sunday Times Rich List announced his wealth at £170 million. Three days previously, he was on the McKellar Golf Podcast, excoriating President Trump, with whom he had played golf three years ago and was duly slagged off for doing so, for his behaviour as regards the pandemic. “He is trying to politicise it and make it a campaign rally,” said McIlroy, “saying that [the US] administers the most tests in the world, like it’s a contest.”
At Bay Hill, McIlroy had finished tied fifth, his seventh straight top-5 finish on the PGA Tour, a mark only previously achieved by Tiger Woods. He went into the enforced break ranked as the world No. 1. He is, perforce, still there, where Woods and Greg Norman are the only players ever to have spent more time than him. When the Players Championship was abandoned after just one round because of Covid-19 concerns, McIlroy’s opinion that “we would need to shut it down” if one player or caddie contracted it was acknowledged to have been one of the reasons the PGA Tour ended the event rather than carry on behind closed doors.
The PGA Tour is now scheduled to resume, without spectators, on June 11. McIlroy has committed to play the first three tournaments after the restart: the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas, the RBC Heritage Classic in South Carolina and the Travelers Championship in Connecticut. “I think the PGA Tour has got a very robust plan it place,” he said. “If they can execute it in the right way, I see no reason why we can’t start on June 11. If we do, I’ll be ready to go.”
No doubt aiming for that eighth successive top-5 finish; doubtless intending to notch up his second victory in the course of that sequence. There has been some grumbling that it is not fair that players who aren’t eligible to play on the PGA Tour, or who won’t be able to get into the country without undergoing 14 days of quarantine, will not be able to compete for world ranking points on any other tours around the world at the equivalent time.
But while Rory has latterly always been the story, that is not his fault. He doesn’t make the rules. He just beats the others.
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