Coronavirus pandemic

'Not hardship' to play in U.S.

Rory McIlroy Ireland playing his shot from the 12th tee at yesterday's first round of the RBC Heritage held on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The Ulsterman pointed out that if he did not have a home in the US, he would still come over and be qua
Rory McIlroy Ireland playing his shot from the 12th tee at yesterday's first round of the RBC Heritage held on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The Ulsterman pointed out that if he did not have a home in the US, he would still come over and be quarantined for two weeks before playing tournaments. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

McIlroy tells Europeans they should accept virus curbs if they cared about their careers

WASHINGTON • Rory McIlroy says European players who decided not to travel to the United States for the US PGA Tour's restart should not complain about missing out on world ranking points.

The Official World Golf Rankings decided to unfreeze the ranking system when the PGA Tour resumed at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas last week after a hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

That did not sit well with some European players, including former world No. 1 Lee Westwood of England, who felt that the burden of self-isolating for two weeks upon arrival in the States and for two weeks when travelling back to Europe, was too much.

"I mean if you really care about your career and care about moving forward you should be here," world No. 1 McIlroy said on Wednesday as he prepared to tee it up for the second straight week in yesterday's start of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

The European Tour would not resume until the British Masters on July 22, and players who do not travel stateside before then can see their rankings suffer.

But Ulsterman McIlroy, who maintains a home in Florida, voiced little sympathy for players such as England's Tommy Fleetwood, who slipped out of the top 10 to No. 11.

"Look, personally, if I were in their shoes and I was asked to come over to the States and shelter in place or quarantine for two weeks before these tournaments, I would have done that," the 31-year-old said.

"I get there's different variables and families and stuff involved, but we all have the means to rent a very nice house in a gated community in Florida... it's not a hardship to come over and quarantine."

McIlroy also said he thought the PGA Tour was doing a good job in implementing protocols to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Told that the tour had reported a second straight week of zero positive coronavirus tests - after conducting 954 tests of players, caddies and family members - he said he was not surprised.

"I feel like the plan that has been put in place here has been very good," he said. "It's great to hear that two weeks in a row there's no positive tests. That's what we just have to keep doing."

McIlroy was three shots off the lead heading into the final round at Colonial last Sunday but fired a four-over 74 to finished tied for 32nd.

That ended the Northern Ireland star's streak of US PGA Tour top-five finishes that stretched back to August last year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2020, with the headline ''Not hardship' to play in U.S.'. Print Edition | Subscribe