Rory McIlroy to play in Scotland in October

Rory McIlroy has handed the Dunhill Links Championship a huge boost by announcing it will be his only event on the European Tour between now and the end of the season.

Rory McIlroy last played the Dunhill Links in 2014 when he partnerned his father Gerry in the pro-am format. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS
Rory McIlroy last played the Dunhill Links in 2014 when he partnerned his father Gerry in the pro-am format. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS

The world No 4 revealed his decision to play in the pro-am event at Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews for the first time since 2014 in an interview ahead of the FedEx Cup Play-Offs starting this week.

“I’m going to play the Dunhill with my dad,” McIlroy told ESPN’s Michael Collins of what he had planned for the rest of the year after defending the title in the four-series event on the PGA Tour

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McIlroy, who has struggled with a rib injury for most of this season, hinted after the US PGA Championship at Quail Hollow earlier this month that he might be shutting things down for the rest of the year.

The four-time major winner then announced he would be playing in the FedEx Cup Play-Offs and now an outing with his dad, Gerry, in the Dunhill Links Championship from 5-8 October will follow those tournaments in the US.

McIlroy has had an affection for the big-money event in Scotland ever since he finished third in just his second appearance as professional on the European Tour in 2007.

He’s never really looked back since then and has come close to landing this particular tournament on a few occasions, finishing second three times, including on his most recent appearance three years ago.

In the same ESPN interview, McIlroy talked about how excited he was to be taking some time off after the Dunhill so that he could get himself ready and raring to go again in 2018, when he will make his fourth attempt to complete a career Grand Slam by winning the Masters.

“I’m hitting the ground running,” he said of next year. “I’m playing a lot. I’m going to be healthy. I feel as though I am going to have a good bit of time at the end of the year to work on my fitness and my game.

“Guys who play both Tours don’t get the opportunity to take a couple of months and to have a proper off season like every other sport has. I’m excited for that. I’m happy to do that. It is an exciting prospect to turn up in 2018 and be ready to go.

“I’m jacked up about the next four weeks. I want to play well. I want to defend my Fed Ex Cup title. I want to finish this year with a win. But, at the same time, these few months are going to be huge for me going forward and I’m excited about that.”

Meanwhile, 2018 Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn will clock up a milestone in his career when he tees off in today’s Made in Denmark event at Himmerland, where an apparance on home soil marks his 500th European Tour appearance.

“It’s quite special to be honest,” said the 46-year-old. “When you started adding up the numbers in April and May it looked like it was going to be around here that 500 was going to come along so we took the opportunity to make it happen.

“I’m excited about the week but it’s also a reminder of what’s gone in the past. Five hundred events is a lot. There’s been a lot of happiness and a lot of tears along the way, but it’s been much more than I could ever have dreamt of.”

Belgian Thomas Pieters defends the title, having secured one of Darren Clarke’s wild-cards for last year’s Ryder Cup in Hazeltine, where he won a record four points from his five matches as a rookie, after producing a blisterting performance.

“Golf has been all right this year,” said the 25-year-old. “I haven’t won, that is my main focus to win a golf tournament and I haven’t done that. I’ve gotten into contention a bunch of times and not finished it off. I’m not happy this year, [but] it’s not over yet.”