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Rory McIlroy set for Wentworth... but Turkey is still off menu

By Phil Casey

Published 16/11/2016

Busy schedule: McIlroy during the pro-am in Dubai yesterday
Busy schedule: McIlroy during the pro-am in Dubai yesterday

Rory McIlroy has hinted that he will put the BMW PGA Championship back on his schedule next year, but Turkey is set to remain off the list for the world number two.

McIlroy had missed the cut in three of his six appearances at Wentworth before tasting victory in 2014, and also made an early exit in defence of his title 12 months later.

The four-time major winner did not play this year but is set to feature in 2017 when the event will be part of the European Tour's new Rolex Series, a group of seven tournaments with a minimum prize fund of $7m (£5.6m).

"I wouldn't be surprised to see me back at Wentworth next year," said McIlroy, who also welcomed the inclusion of the Irish Open - hosted by his own foundation - in the Rolex Series.

The European Tour and Rolex will make up the £10m total shortfall in funding for the BMW PGA Championship, Irish Open and Scottish Open, with the Italian Open, Turkish Airlines Open, Nedbank Golf Challenge and DP World Tour Championship already meeting the prize-fund requirements.

However, even the riches on offer in Turkey seem unlikely to tempt McIlroy back to the country following his withdrawal from this year's event due to security concerns.

The 27-year-old also missed the Olympics in Rio after citing concerns over the Zika virus, but does not feel his reputation has suffered as a result.

"I think I do enough good things on and off the golf course in terms of what I do charity-wise and how I try to carry myself," McIlroy said ahead of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. "Pulling out of a couple of tournaments I don't think is going to damage that.

"I'd rather go to Turkey wanting to win than go to Turkey and not want to be there and finish 40th. What good does that do for the tournament? That does nothing for them.

"The biggest way they can promote golf in Turkey - okay they can have my face everywhere on posters - is me lifting that trophy at the end of the week. If I don't feel comfortable being there I'm not going to win the golf tournament."

Asked if he was likely to play next year, McIlroy added: "After what I read, maybe not."

At least McIlroy's schedule at the start of 2017 will be busy, the Ulsterman fulfilling a promise to Ernie Els to play the South African Open in January - "My last IOU from the 2015 Irish Open" - before tournaments in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Los Angeles, Florida (two), Mexico and Texas.

After that comes his third attempt to complete the career grand slam by winning the Masters, a task he admits was hampered this year by being "too proud" to seek help with his inconsistent putting.

"I was stubborn and wanted to figure it out on my own, but I really needed a second opinion," added McIlroy, who eventually sought help from putting expert Phil Kenyon and went on to win the Tour Championship and FedEx Cup.

Belfast Telegraph

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