Belfast Telegraph

McIlroy is joining the professional ranks at the Belfry today

By Peter Hutcheon

Rory McIlroy spent his last few hours as an amateur today playing a practice round at the Belfry with Darren Clarke.

He officially turns professional this afternoon, joining Clarke's manager Chubby Chandler at the International Sports Management group based in Chester.

His first event in the paid ranks will be this week's British Masters at the former Ryder Cup venue.

Graeme McDowell said Rory will be in a good position because of the number of professional events he had played already.

"I had played just one pro event before I turned professional but Rory's played close to ten and that's a huge boost for anyone being out here and seeing what the environment in like," the Portrush player said.

"These days there is not a huge jump from amateur golf as the guys are getting a little more efficient getting the ball around.

"It's going to be a huge benefit to Rory having Darren and the other guys to practice with and guys to ask questions.

"But it will be tough for him to live up to the expectations that are going to be placed on him."

Meanwhile Padraig Harrington has pulled out of next week's Seve Trophy match between Great Britain and Ireland and Continental Europe at the Heritage club.

Captains Nick Faldo and Ballesteros name their wild card choices now that the eight qualifiers are known. Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Luke Donald have also all pulled out of the event.

Harrington, who has played in all four Seve Trophies so far, said it was an extremely tough decision to withdraw from what would have been his first appearance in Ireland as reigning Open champion. But he is carrying three separate injuries and felt he had no choice.

"It was an agonising decision yet once it had been made it felt like a great weight had been taken off me," he said.

"I haven't had two consecutive weeks off since April and it usually takes a fortnight to recover properly."

Harrington is leading the European Tour's order of merit and his main priority for the rest of the season is to win it for a second year in a row.

Belfast Telegraph


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