Martin Dempster: Credit Rory McIlroy for opting for Europe

Rory McIlroy. Picture: Robert Perry
Rory McIlroy. Picture: Robert Perry
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Well done to Rory 
McIlroy for supporting the European Tour by opting to play in the 100th French Open instead of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

It’s unfortunate these two events clash from 29 June-3 July, a situation caused by the summer schedule having to be tweaked due to golf’s return to the Olympics in Rio.

McIlroy, of course, won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in the middle of his purple patch in 2014 and didn’t get the chance to defend the title due to an ankle injury sustained playing football with friends.

There’s no doubt he’ll want as many WGCs as possible on his CV, so missing out on one is something he’d ideally have wanted to avoid. The European Tour, though, have made no secret of how important they feel the centenary staging of the French Open is by offering double Ryder Cup points in it as the battle to make Darren Clarke’s team for Hazeltine really starts to hot up.

That’s not the reason McIlroy is heading to Le Golf National because the world No 3 is already guaranteed to be an automatic selection, which makes his decision even more praiseworthy.

It sends out a really strong message, one that will have delighted Keith Pelley, the European Tour’s chief executive, as it would have been a blow for him to have seen the circuit’s star name heading across the pond on this particular week.

It’s unfortunate, of course, that McIlroy isn’t also heading to 
Castle Stuart the following week for the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open’s return there, but he simply can’t be expected to add his weight to every event.