Rory McIlroy won’t be paying homage to the late Seve Ballesteros by teeing it up for Paul McGinley’s Great Britain and Ireland side in the Vivendi Seve Trophy later this month.
“Unfortunatley not,” he said in Switzerland, where he headlines the €2 million Omega European Masters with stablemates Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood and world No 5 Martin Kaymer. “I have got a few sponsor commitments and I have got such a busy end to the year.
“I am on the road for 12 weeks in a row from the Dunhill right up until the tournament in Thailand at the end of the year. I just want to try and get two weeks at home and do a few things before I head off on that big run.”
Two years ago McIlroy had just one tour win to his credit. Now he has three, including the US Open and he’ll be cashing in big time on that status over the next few months as well as chasing Ryder Cup points and trying to close the €1.84m gap on runaway leader Luke Donald in the Race to Dubai.
His reasons for missing the Vivendi Seve Trophy would make perfect sense to the Spanish maestro who was not averse to rolling out what Ernie Els famously described as “the wheelbarrow” when he was in his pomp.
A US Open champion, McIlroy is the star attraction in Crans, where he failed to clinch his maiden professional win in 2008 by making a poor bogey at the last before losing to Jean Francois Lucquin in a play-off.
He’s learned a lot since then but that loss still hurts and he’s determined to shrug off the US PGA “tree root” injury that has moved from his wrist into his shoulder and possibly move to third in the world this week.
“I still think about that to this day,” McIlroy said of his 2008 loss in the Swiss Alps. “It was such a good chance to win my first tournament as a professional and didn’t get it done. I should have made par up the last. But I learnt a lot from it, which was good.”
McIlroy confessed on his blog this week that taking on a tree root on the third hole of the US PGA was “a stupid shot to play.”
“At the time I thought I could get away with it, but obviously I didn’t and it put paid to my chances of a second major this year,” he wrote.
In Switzerland, he added that it was just one of a series of errors that he’s learned from.
“You have to learn from your mistakes and I learned from my mistakes in 2008 and I’ve learned from some mistakes this year, at the Masters and everything. It’s good to have those disappointments because it makes you that much hungrier to have the success.
“I try to analyse it as much as I can and take what I need from it and try and put that into the practice and try and become a better player. I am a lot more experienced [than three years ago].”
As for his wrist, he insisted that it wouldn’t hinder his title bid this week. Whether or not his elbow or shoulder are okay too, remains to be seen.
“The wrist is totally fine. Elbow…still, it’s nothing really. Going up into the shoulder there is a little bit of a sensation but it is nearly 100 percent so I am happy about that. As long as I keep getting treatment on it for the next week or so it should be back to full health.”
After having treatment and icing his injury during his two week lay-off, which he spent mainly the US with his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, he said: “I hit balls three times last week and that was probably as much as a I could have done to be honest. But I practiced yesterday and played nine holes and practiced this morning and it feels fine.”
With the four majors out of the way, McIlroy’s goals for the rest of the season are to pick up at least one tournament win and to move as close as possible to his dream of matching Wozniacki by becoming world No 1.
“I think we definitely spur each other on. She’s number one in the world and I’ve got a major and we sort of both want what each other have,” the world No 6 said. “It’s a big goal of mine. I want to become the best player in the world.”
A win in Switzerland could see him leap to a career high of world No 3 if other results go his way. If not, he will have another chance in next week’s €1.8m KLM Open in Holland, where he will again be joined by Clarke and Westwood.
As for Clarke, the Open champion says he’s doing his “utmost” to play in the Seve Trophy but has a two day corporate commitment in Scotland immediately after the event.
The event is designed to give European players a taste of the team golf environment and prepare them for the Ryder Cup, which starts its qualifying process this week.
“I played it two years ago and it was a great experience for me to get a little bit of team competition before the Ryder Cup,” McIlroy said. “It is a great experience for some of the guys that haven’t played in team events to get some experience and they are looking to make the Ryder Cup team next year.
“It definitely helped me and I am sure it will help a few people in a couple of weeks’ time to get that experience to hopefully help them go into the Ryder Cup.”
Westwood has yet to make up his mind about joining McGinley in Paris but appears keen to do so and join fellow Worksop man Mark Foster in the GB&I team.