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Players Championship: McIlroy ‘no’ to Sawgrass as Woods dithers

Rory McIlroy

Tiger Woods has yet to say whether he will be fit enough for the Players Championship next week but Rory McIlroy has confirmed he will not be taking part in golf's richest event.

No go: Rory McIlroy in action at the Players Championship last year but the Holywood golfer is giving the Sawgrass tournament a miss this time aroundBY mark garrod

btsportsdesk@hotmail.com

Like world number one Lee Westwood, birthday boy McIlroy — 22 yesterday — is controversially giving the £5.7million Sawgrass tournament a miss.

And that is despite the fact that he has flown to the States this week to defend the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte.

“It is a year-by-year thing,” said the Ulsterman, back in America for the first time since he shot a closing 80 when leading the Masters by four.

“I'm playing here, taking next week off and then playing Spain, Wentworth, Memorial, week off, US Open.

“If I played The Players then the US Open would be my sixth week (out) of seven, which is a lot of golf for me.

“I said to myself that this year I wouldn't play more than three in a row and if I had played The Players it would be five in a row.

“It's just too much golf for me. I feel as if I just get a little lethargic and a little lazy after three events and it would just be best for my preparation for the US Open if I didn't play one of those events.

“Sawgrass was the one — I don't feel that comfortable on the golf course yet. That doesn't mean that I won't play it next year or the year after, but this year it just didn't really fit.”

Twelve months ago McIlroy missed the cut in Florida just five days after his astonishing maiden PGA Tour win in North Carolina.

After making the halfway cut with nothing to spare — and thanks to a late eagle — the world number six followed a third round 66 with a course record 62 to beat Phil Mickelson by four.

Mickelson, after three weeks off following his disappointing Masters, is back now to try to go one better and is favourite in the absence of Woods.

The former world number one, now down to seventh and behind both Mickelson and McIlroy, suffered a mild medial collateral ligament sprain in his left knee and a mild left Achilles tendon strain at Augusta.

“I must follow doctors' orders to get better,” he said when deciding not to play Quail Hollow, where he missed the cut by eight shots a year ago.

“This is precautionary — we're not at all concerned,” said his agent Mark Steinberg. “He's just listening to his doctors, which is kind of nice. He certainly didn't before the US Open in 2008.”

Belfast Telegraph