A decision by five of the world’s top-13, including former World No. 1s Rory McIlroy and Jason Day, to not tee-up at altitude in Mexico City this week has not ruffled any WGC – Mexico Championship organisation feathers.
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McIlroy and Day have also be joined by Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and it means the world’s No. 6, 8, 9, 10 and 13 will miss the ‘guaranteed money’ tournament being staged in the Mexican capital for a second year running.
A year ago, Day was ruled out the Mexico event citing an infection in both ears along with the flu while this time his mother is visiting from Australia and it’s natural he would want to spend the week with her.
Koepka is recovering from wrist surgery and a week ago Jordan Spieth was also very undecided, saying following his appearance in last fortnight’s Genesis Open: “I’m going to have to kind of see how I’m feeling, how I’ve been recovering in the week off, and then what is the best prep to be ready by the time we tee it up at Augusta”.
Then when entries closed for the Mexico Championship the Texas-born Spieth was in the field.
Regardless, the absence of these top players on the World Rankings is a big blow not only to event organisers but Mexican golf fans.
McIlroy has not spoken much on his decision and in his three PGA Tour events he has not been asked other than to confirm on Sunday following his final round at the Honda Classic if the PGA Tour had spoken to him why he was not travelling to Mexico.
His answer was ‘no’ and when it all boils down to it why should the Tour be concerned given golf is a very individual sport and if McIlroy wants a week off, he’s entitled to the week off.
It allows him to spend quality time later this week on the Bear’s Club range with long-time swing coach Michael Bannon who jets into Florida from Belfast on Friday afternoon.
And while Mexico may lose out on cheering for McIlroy, he will compete in front a new fan base later next week for a first time in contesting the Valspar Championship on the Innisbrook Resort course near Naples on the Florida west coast.
Indeed McIlroy tweeted on December 8th confirmation he would contest the Valspar (A leading US paint manufacturer) when announcing he would be playing eight events, two on the European Tour and six on the PGA Tour, and with all roads leading the April 5th commencing Masters.
“I’ve heard a lot of great things about the golf course,” he said.
“I know it is not an old tournament on the PGA schedule but it has produced some great winners. I remember Luke Donald winning a few years back in a play-off.”
“Then Jordan Spieth won in a play-off back in 2015 and we saw what sort of year he went on to have that year. So, I’ll be looking to hopefully doing the same.”