RORY McIlroy has been granted a special exemption by the European Tour to allow the Race to Dubai leader to play in the circuit’s lucrative season-ending “Final Series”.
Due to missing the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, the Open Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational as a result of an ankle injury sustained playing football, the world No 1 will not meet the 13-event qualification criteria in order to remain in the Tour’s Order of Merit title race.
However, having committed to play in three more events on his home circuit before the end of the season, McIlroy has been given the green light to stay in the Race to Dubai by new chief executive Keith Pelley.
“These are exceptional circumstances and I have taken this situation and the resulting decision very seriously,” said Pelley, of a move that could be viewed as a dangerous precedent.
“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 from orthopaedic surgeon Dr Andrew Adair, physiotherapist Dr Steve McGregor and our chief of medical staff Dr Roger Hawkes – while at the same time recognising that Rory is a world golfer with global commitments – 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.
“Therefore, after lengthy discussions, I have given him approval to play a minimum of 12 European Tour events this year.”
McIlroy, the Race to Dubai winner in 2014, has played just one event – the US PGA, where he finished 17th – since he injured himself. He is scheduled to play the second FedEx Cup event in Boston starting tomorrow.