Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

McIlroy says no to Tiger, he's too busy!

By Peter Hutcheon

Rory McIlroy has turned down an invitation from Tiger Woods to play in the world number one's Target World Challenge next month.

It's not that he's getting too big for his boots, instead he declined to travel to Los Angeles as he is sticking rigidly to his European Tour plans to do as well as he possibly can in his rookie year.

"The invite came right out of the blue and it was fantastic to get it," the 18-year-old said.

"I was thrilled that they would want to invite me considering I'm only just starting out on my career.

" But if I play in his event next month I would also have to play in the AT& T event in Washington next July that Tiger also hosts.

"That event clashes with the European Open and that's an event I would be stupid not to play.

"It was hard to say no but we've written to the organisers explaining the predicament I'm in and besides I have 30 more years to compete in Tiger's events so I had to politely decline.

" It would have been a great way to end the year but at the end of the day I have to focus on my schedule and try to stick to that."

McIlroy didn't make the most of a promising start to his first event of the new European Tour season year, the Hong Kong Open when he teed off in the early hours of this morning.

An eagle three at the third got him on his way and he reached the turn in four under.

But two bogies followed by a double-bogey took him back to level par, although he did pick up one shot for a one-under 69 which leaves him seven shots off the lead held by Korea's KJ Choi on eight under.

Graeme McDowell made a great start with a very solid 66 which contained five birdies and just one dropped shot.

Meanwhile Ulster pair Damian Mooney and Michael McGeady continue on the tortuous road to what they hope will be their European Tour cards at San Roque in Spain at the final stage of qualifying school which starts today.

They face up to six rounds in the hope of winning one of 30 spots on offer for next season.

Even making through to the final two rounds is no easy matter with a cut after Sunday's fourth round.

As well as the other qualifier from stage two, they are up against the players who only just missed out on retaining their cards last year as well as players who are on tour but are seeking to improve their category to play more events.

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