McIlroy sees third title defence of 2020 cancelled

Bernie McGuire

Rory McIlroy with the Old Tom Morris Cup after the final round of the WGC HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

If there’s a player more affected by the Covid-19 related cancellation of tournaments than Rory McIlroy, let him or her be known.

McIlroy won four times in 2019, at the Players Championship, the RBC Canadian Open, the Tour Championship and the WGC – HSBC Champions.

Three of those tournaments have now been cancelled with the Federation of Golf Tours confirming overnight the cancellation of next month’s WGC – HSBC Champions in Shanghai.


On three occasions in his career, McIlroy’s won either four or more times in a single year but then he’s had the option to proudly defend each and every tournament thereafter… though not this year.

Indeed, McIlroy is yet to win in 2020 and the father-to-be will be desperate in the handful of events remaining, including two Majors, to pull off at least one victory in this COVID-19 ravaged year.

There’s been just one year in his 28-tournament winning career that McIlroy has not won a single tournament and that was in 2017.

However, in looking back on 2019, McIlroy captured a first Players Championship title and the 15th win of his PGA Tour career in defeating Jim Furyk by a stroke at Tour HQ but then his defence earlier this year lasted just one round when the Tour announced the event was being cancelled.

A month later and organisers of the RBC Canadian Open, an event first staged in 1904, announced that there would be no renewal this year.

McIlroy elected to tee-up in the event for a first time last year and he literally mesmerised the field, including playing partner and fellow Irishman Shane Lowry, producing a final round and career low 61 to win the title by seven shots and push Lowry,  a month out from his own triumph at Royal Portrush, into a distant second place.

In August last year, McIlroy captured a second Tour Championship and while the event will go ahead this week, it could do without the defending champ.

McIlroy’s listed to attend a virtual media conference on Thursday but there’s a TBC beside his name with the four-time major winner all set to pull the plug on travelling to Atlanta if wife Erica goes into labour.

If so, that would be a third event that he won in 2019 that he will not get to defend.

McIlroy’s fourth victory title of last year was in capturing a first WGC – HSBC Champions crown when he defeated American Xander Schauffele in a play-off.

The Chinese government long ago had cancelled all international sports due to the Coronavirus to 2021, so the announcement of the cancelling of ‘Asia’s Major’ comes as no surprise.

PGA Tour executive vice-president Ty Votaw said: “We have worked extensively with all Tours, international officials, the Chinese Golf Association and other local parties to find a solution to host the WGC-HSBC Champions.

“In line with Chinese government guidelines and being mindful of the logistical implications, we collectively made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 event.”

The PGA Tour has recently moved the CJ Cup from South Korea to Las Vegas and the Zozo Championship from Japan to California, but there was no relocation option for the WGC-HSBC Champions.


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