Rory says "no" to Tiger

By Brian Keogh

Hot property Rory McIlroy has turned down an invite to play for Tiger Woods in the US next year.

The Holywood ace, 18, received a special invitation to compete in Woods' $ 6 million AT&T National at Congressional on the PGA Tour.

But McIlroy has decided to turn down a potentially lucrative US appearance to remain loyal to the clashing European Open from July 3-6.

Both events are scheduled to take place in the first week in July and McIlroy believes his best option is the European Tour event.

He said: "It would have been nice. We looked at it but Tiger's event would have been clashing with the European Open and I didn't want to miss the European Open, which is one of the big events on the European Tour.

"I'd rather play in a European Tour event and support my own tour rather than going over and playing an event on the PGA Tour for some money.

"That was the reason. I have got plenty more years to play in Tiger's event so I am not too worried."

McIlroy is playing down his chances of making next year's Ryder Cup side and set his sights on winning his first European Tour event instead.

But he has not ruled out making an appearance on the PGA Tour next year.

He said: "I haven't made any plans to play in America. But I'll obviously try to qualify for the US Open and the Open Championship.

"Apart from that I haven't made any plans to go over to the States and play anything."

Had McIlroy accepted Tiger's invite to play in the AT&T National, he might also have landed a place in next month's Target World Challenge at Sherwood Country Club in Los Angeles.

Woods also hosts the unofficial end-of-season event near Malibu, where Padraig Harrington will again tee it up this year.

The profits from both events go towards the Tiger Woods Foundation and various youth programmes in the Washington and LA areas.

Woods' late father Earl always dreamed that his son would one day host his own PGA Tour event.

After watching KJ Choi win the inaugural event and $1.08 million this year, Woods said: "It's been a perfect week. I didn't get a 'W,' so that was frustrating in that sense. But this tournament in general has been a bigger success than anyone could have imagined."

Nearly 38,000 fans turned up on the final day of the elite 120-man event where last place worth $11,640.