Comment: Rory's Race to Dubai exemption a no-brainerSeptember 2, 2015 Golf Tips
The European Tour were not about to stop their No 1 asset from competing in the Final Series
It is a rarity in golf that rules are there to be broken but, thankfully, in the case of World No 1 Rory McIlroy they have been.
To compete in the European Tour’s Final Series, which culminates in the World Tour Championship in November in Dubai, every player must have played in 13 tournaments per season.
To date McIlroy has played in nine having missed the Scottish Open, the Open Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational due to his ankle ligament injury. Given he plays in the Dunhill Links that would have made 13 but he is now unable to meet the minimum event requirements.
But new chief executive Keith Pelley has made what might be the easiest decision he will ever have to make in his tenure and, in the exceptional circumstances (and given it’s Rory) allowed him to play in 12.
A closer look at McIlroy’s schedule shows that he will have played in Europe just three times in 2015 – at Wentworth, his own tournament at Royal County Down and at the Dunhill next month. The rest are WGCs, the Emirates, the Majors and what will be China (for the WGC-HSBC Champions) and finally Dubai.
Pelley said: “These are exceptional circumstances and I have taken this situation and the resulting decision very seriously. I have spent the last two weeks examining every angle and every possible solution and I have spoken with Rory and his team, as well as independent medical advisers and some prominent players.
“After reviewing and discussing all the medical reports and recommendations I am convinced that he could not commit to any further tournament participation without risking further injury and persistent weakness to the ankle in the future.”
“Although he played again after a few weeks, he will need close attention for about a year" – Dr Roger Hawkes Of more interest is the statement from the European Tour’s chief of medical staff Dr Roger Hawkes. Given all the optimism and apparent ease that McIlroy breezed round Whistling Straits Hawkes believes that the injury could be a factor for up to 12 months.
“In my view this is a potentially serious and significant injury. There is a risk of permanent instability of the ankle which could seriously affect both his golf swing – you need stability in the left ankle during the followthrough – and for walking safely on uneven surfaces.
“Although he played again after a few weeks, he will need close attention for about a year. The suggestion of a reduced schedule and, wherever possible, avoiding back-to-back events is, in my opinion, sensible and important to allow adequate healing and reduce the chance of the complications mentioned which could clearly jeopardise his career.”
Despite the limited schedule McIlroy still remains top of the Race to Dubai standings. He already has two money list titles, in 2012 and 2014.