Rory McIlroy now fears for his health and safety in the continuing Coronavirus pandemic, so much so he’ll more than likely not leave the U.S. this season.
If so, it would mean the four-time Major winner would not tee-up in a regular European Tour event this term, the first time this has happened in his career since turning pro at the end of 2007.
McIlroy raised his ongoing fears ahead of this week’s WGC – FedEx St. Jude Invitational in Memphis, Tennessee.
“I have no idea whether or not the Irish Open is going ahead as I don’t have a clue,” he said after a final practice round on the TPC Southwind course.
“Honestly, I don’t see myself going back to Europe this year. I don’t know if I want to travel. I don’t know if I want to be exposed to more things and more people.
“I just don’t know. I’m sort of taking it week-by-week. I have my schedule worked out until the U.S. Open (Sept 17-20) which is a couple of weeks after the Tour Championship.
“So, I honestly have no idea what I am going to do after that.”
It’s for this same reason McIlroy is supporting the England duo of Lee Westwood and Eddie Pepperell who have chosen not to travel to the U.S. for the next two weeks despite the honours on offer in Memphis and San Francisco.
McIlroy said: “I understand their plight because I’m just after saying I don’t know if I would travel in the fall and go and play some of these other events in Europe, but if it was a major championship, it would probably be different and I probably would go over and play it.
“But that’s not to say what Lee and Eddie are doing isn’t right, that they feel safer and they feel that their time is better spent at home and not exposing themselves to more people and to getting sick or getting someone else sick.
“So, I completely understand where they’re coming from, but as you said, if it was an Open Championship and I had the chance to go over and play, I would probably take the risk and go and play.”
McIlroy last competed in a full European Tour event (finished T4th) in last November’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
The now World No. 2 is lying 24th on the Race to Dubai money list by virtue of his fifth place in just one 2020 counting event, that being the WGC – Mexico Championship at Mexico City.
McIlroy will pick-up Race to Dubai points this week in Memphis and also at next week’s PGA Championship in San Francisco plus two postponed majors of 2020; the U.S Open and the Masters to be held in the second week of November.
But it seems highly likely that McIlroy will not be seen on European soil until at least the new year, and that is only if the 31-year feels it’s safe enough crossing ‘The Pond’.
It would mean missing the October 15-18 BMW PGA Championship at Tour HQ in Surrey and the season finale in Dubai commencing on 10th December.
McIlroy will play his opening round of the $US10.5m WGC event in Memphis in the company of the fellow Major winning duo of Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth, teeing-up at 5.50pm Irish time.
Also in the Memphis field is the continuing reigning 2019 Open champion, Shane Lowry out from the first tee at 6.30pm Irish time while Graeme McDowell is off from the 10th tee and at the same time as Lowry.