Rory McIlroy to play first three events when TOUR returns to action
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Written by Ben Everill @BEverillGolfbet
FedExCup champion Rory McIlroy will hit the ground running when the PGA TOUR returns to competition in June, saying Wednesday that he plans to play the first three tournaments in the revised schedule.
The PGA TOUR is currently scheduled to resume from the COVID-19 enforced break at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, for the Charles Schwab Challenge on June 11-14.
McIlroy outlined his plans to be in that field, along with the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina (June 18-21) and the Travelers Championship (June 25-28) at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut.
“I just want to get back out and play. So right now, I'm planning to play the first three events … and then see where we go from there,” McIlroy said ahead of Sunday’s TaylorMade Driving Relief supported by UnitedHealth Group skins match.
McIlroy and partner Dustin Johnson will take on the duo of Rickie Fowler-Matthew Wolff at Seminole Golf Club to raise funds for COVID-19 relief efforts – the first live golf on television since THE PLAYERS Championship was canceled in mid-March following the opening round.
“That's my plan, play the first three. I think it will be nice to get back out and play,” McIlroy said. “Obviously we're going to have to take as many precautions as possible to be able to put TOUR events on again, but I think the PGA TOUR has got a very robust plan in place, and if they can execute it the right way, I see no reason why we can't start June 11. If we do, I'll be ready to go in Fort Worth.”
It will be new ground for the two-time FedExCup champion in many ways. He hasn’t ever played the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial and has just one appearance at Hilton Head – a T-58 in 2009. His history at the Travelers Championship consists of two starts -- a T-17 in 2017 and a T-12 in 2018.
It will be the first time McIlroy has played three consecutive TOUR events since last season’s FedExCup Playoff-winning run. The last time he played three consecutive regular PGA TOUR stops -- outside of the Playoffs or in and around a major or World Golf Championships event -- was in February 2018.
With a condensed schedule through the summer, McIlroy knows his eagerness to return also needs to be balanced with a little rest. But he expects to go after the form he had prior to the break. The current world No 1 finished inside the top 10 in 12 of his last 14 worldwide starts, including wins at the TOUR Championship and the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. His last seven starts all finished inside the top 5.
With just six starts in the current TOUR season, he’s currently third in the FedExCup standings behind Sungjae Im and Justin Thomas.
“You have to be ready to go,” McIlroy said, “You know, stay sharp. Stay ready. I sort of joked a little bit at the start of this whole thing, saying, well, guys wanted an offseason. Well, now's your offseason. It's pedal to the metal to the end of the year to try to get as much golf in as possible. I personally am looking forward to that, if it can happen.
“I miss the competition. I miss the buzz of getting into contention and playing in those last few groups on a Sunday and really feeling that. I also miss the locker room. I miss being around people. I miss the banter that goes on in the locker rooms and the camaraderie that people don't see.
“I'm eager to play again and I'll play as much as necessary to give myself a chance to win tournaments and keep myself at the top of the world ranking. I was playing pretty well when this all happened in March, so I would like to just really pick up where I left off. That would be nice.”