Paul McGinley says Rory McIlroy’s decision not to compete in this year’s Irish Open is “a sign of the times”.
The 2014 European Ryder Cup captain is the host for this year’s event at Lahinch and admits he is disappointed by the 29-year-old’s absence.
While the world number four will be missing, Ian Poulter is the latest player to commit to the 4-7 July event.
“It was (a disappointment) but this is something we’re going to see more of going forward,” said McGinley.
“The challenges the players have on the world schedule are huge. The amount of money they play for around the world is huge and the focus is very much going to be on major championships and I think it’s just a sign of the times.
“He (McIlroy) is not the only one, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods as well – look at his schedule right through his career – they don’t play a huge amount and they define everything around the major championships.”
McIlroy is skipping his national open to focus on his preparations for The Open at Royal Portrush a fortnight later.
A number of high-profile players will however travel to the west of Ireland for this year’s Irish Open, including major winners Louis Oosthuizen, Danny Willett and Padraig Harrington.
But McGinley says the tournament can no longer expect to attract all of the biggest names, adding: “The days of old when Seve, Faldo, Langer, Woosie and all the top players played in an Irish Open, those days are gone.
“Any tournament around the world, even on the PGA Tour, outside the majors, the WGC events and the Players (Championship), if you have two or three or four of the big names and then you fit around the guys who are top 50 in the world around that and then the rest of the tour well that’s a very good field.
“That’s what we’re on course to do and hopefully we’re going to get there, we’re pretty close to it at the moment.”
“Had an encouraging visit with my doctor, however we both think it’s in my best interest to take some time away to allow my body to heal properly and get stronger.
“Hopefully I can get back to being pain free real soon. Thank you everyone for staying patient with me. I appreciate y’all.”
Wie, who turned professional shortly before her 16th birthday in 2005, was forced to withdraw mid-round from the Women’s British Open last August because of pain in her right hand.
The injury has hindered Wie’s playing time this season – she pulled out of the Women’s World Championship in March and missed the cut in her past two tournaments, including the Lotte Championship in her native Hawaii this month.
-12 CT Pan (Tpe); -11 M Kuchar (US); -10 P Cantlay (US), S Piercy (US), S Lowry (Ire); -9 J Poston (US), S Power (Ire), K Streelman (US); -8 S Burns (US)
Selected others: -7 I Poulter (Eng); -6 E Pepperell (Eng); -5 T Fleetwood (Eng); -4 D Johnson (US); -3 L Donald (Eng); -2 M Fitzpatrick (Eng); +1 G McDowell (NI); +2 J Spieth (US)
Chinese Taipei’s CT Pan won his first PGA Tour title with a one-shot victory at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina.
The 27-year-old world number 113, two adrift overnight, had only one bogey in a four under 67 for a 12-under total.
Irishman Shane Lowry, who led after both the first two rounds, finished in a tie for third, two back, after a 70.
World number one Dustin Johnson was one ahead into the last day but ended eight off the pace after an errant 77, with Ian Poulter seven under after a 73.
The gusting winds of earlier in the event had reduced to a stiff breeze at Hilton Head on Sunday and in the early stages of Johnson’s round, four other players had joined him at 10 under.
Lowry made three birdies in his first six holes to open a two-shot lead, but missed a short par putt at the ninth and then took four from the left of the 12th green for a double bogey to slip three behind.
American Matt Kuchar, winner in 2014, holed an eight-foot birdie putt at the last to set the target at 11 under but Pan, making his 79th start on the PGA Tour, calmly parred his final two holes to remain at 12 under.
It left Lowry, in the penultimate group, needing to hole his second shot from 180 yards at the 460-yard par four 18th to tie, but he finished with a par.
Pan is only the second player from Chinese Taipei to triumph on the PGA Tour, following TC Chen at the 1987 Genesis Open.
The final group petered out tamely, Johnson dropped seven shots in five holes on the back nine and finished in a tie for 28th, while Poulter shared 10th after making only two birdies.
-9 S Lowry (Ire); -8 T Mullinax (US); -7 D Johnson (US), E Grillo (Arg); -6 CT Pan (Tpe), R Sabbatini (Svk)
Selected others: -5 I Poulter (Eng), G McDowell (NI); -4 T Fleetwood (Eng), M Kuchar (US); -3 J Spieth (US); -2 E Pepperell (Eng), S Power (Ire); -1 L Donald (Eng), X Schauffele (US), E Els (SA); Level M Fitzpatrick (Eng); +1 B DeChambeau (US); +2 D Willett (Eng); +3 R Knox (Sco), M Laird (Sco)
Ireland’s Shane Lowry led by one shot at the RBC Heritage when darkness suspended play with two holes of his second round remaining.
Storms had earlier delayed play in South Carolina, where Lowry, 32, had held a one-stroke lead after round one.
On Friday he improved to nine under par to stay clear of Trey Mullinax, who carded a three-under 68 in round two.
World number one Dustin Johnson and Emiliano Grillo are both seven under after shooting four-under-par 67s.
Taiwan’s Cheng-tsung Pan is just a shot further back after climbing the leaderboard with a six-under 65, while Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell and England’s Ian Poulter are among a large group on five under par.
Lowry is among 56 players, which also includes McDowell, Donald and Tommy Fleetwood, who must complete their second round at Hilton Head on Saturday before starting the third later in the day.
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell is on three under, while England’s Luke Donald is also in the clubhouse on one under, a shot ahead of compatriots Tommy Fleetwood and Eddie Pepperell and American three-time major winner Jordan Spieth.
World number one Dustin Johnson is among a number of players yet to finish their round in South Carolina.
The American started just 24 events in a four-year period. A public admission of infidelity and the breakdown of his marriage led to him taking a break from golf.
The former world number one returned but then had injuries and back surgeries, slipped down the rankings, and even thought his career was over. His off-course problems also continued when he was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence in 2017.
But now at the age of 43, he has won at Augusta for the first time since 2005.
Here is how his fellow sporting greats, politicians and Hollywood actors reacted on social media to the “greatest comeback story in sport”.
First, the sporting world…
Woods had spinal fusion surgery in April 2017 and has had four back surgeries in his career.
Twenty-three time Grand Slam tennis champion Serena Williams has struggled with injuries throughout her career and has twice suffered a pulmonary embolism.
“I am literally in tears watching Tiger Woods, this is Greatness like no other,” the American tweeted. “Knowing all you have been through physically to come back and do what you just did today? Wow. Congrats a million times! I am so inspired.”
Six-time NBA all-star Stephen Curry called Woods’ victory “the greatest comeback story in sports” and asked Woods if he could “hold one of those five jackets one time!”
Former LA Lakers legend Kobe Bryant kept things simple…
Former basketball player Magic Johnson posted that “the roar of the Tiger is back” while Tom Brady, who won a record sixth Super Bowl in February, spent the evening “running the numbers on how long it’ll take me to get to 15”.
Real Madrid and Wales footballer Gareth Bale also celebrated Woods’ victory.
Then those glued to the TV…
Former US President Barack Obama, who played a round of golf with Woods during his time in office, paid tribute to Woods’ determination after a difficult few years.
“To come back and win the Masters after all the highs and lows is a testament to excellence, grit and determination,” he wrote.
US President Donald Trump said he loved “people who are great under pressure. What a fantastic life comeback for a really great guy!”
For BBC Sport presenter Gary Lineker, Woods’ victory was the “second most thrilling sporting achievement I’ve seen”.
The best? Leicester winning the Premier League title in 2016 as huge underdogs, of course. “There’s something in my eye,” Lineker tweeted. “To use a phrase once used before about Tiger Woods – ‘Oh my goodness…Wow….In your life have you seen anything like that?'”
Former tennis world number one Chris Evert said: “Tiger has shown us all that you can always come back, in sport and in life, if you put in the work”.
Legendary former England cricketer Ian Botham called Woods’ victory “one of the biggest inspirational performances… Who said he wouldn’t win another major… no. 15 and more to come”.
Australian actor Hugh Jackman was also keeping an eye on proceedings in Augusta…
And then Woods’ fellow golfers…
Woods’ former coach Butch Harmon told Sky Sports: “I’ve never seen him show emotion like that. At any time, anywhere, any time in his life.
“He was humbled by his own mistakes, the things he went through he created, nobody else created them, and he came out the other side.
“He got himself help, he got his body right, he got his head right and he went to work on his game. I couldn’t be happier for him and his family.”
Phil Mickelson said of his long-time rival Woods: “I’m so impressed by his incredible performance and I’m so happy for him to capture another Green Jacket. Truly a special day that will go down in history”.
Eighteen-time major winner Jack Nicklaus tweeted he was “so happy for him and for the game of golf. This is just fantastic,” while Bubba Watson said he was “thankful to get to see that in person” along with the hashtag #Needs 4 more majors.
The European Tour put Woods’ road to his 15th major title into perspective…
England’s Ian Poulter, who finished with a share of 12th, wrote “A couple of mistakes were very costly today. But a day we will remember as @tigerwoods comeback incredible. What he has done for the game of golf can’t be quantified. We all owe a lot to him for that. Respect. Enjoy number 15 Mr Woods.”
And a reminder of where it all began…
The first person Woods ran to after sinking the winning putt was his son, Charlie. Twenty-two years ago, Woods’ father, Earl, had embraced him as he claimed his first Masters victory.
And one Twitter account shared the letter that Earl wrote to his 21-year-old son after he became the Augusta champion.
Tiger Woods produced a scintillating finish to win a fifth Masters title and end an 11-year wait to claim a 15th major.
There were raucous celebrations around the 18th green as Woods finished with a two-under-par 70 to win on 13 under, one clear of fellow Americans Dustin Johnson, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka.
The 43-year-old, written off by so many so often as he battled back problems in recent years, punched the air in delight, a wide smile across his face, before celebrating with his children at the back of the green.
It was Woods’ first Masters victory since 2005 and he is now just one behind Jack Nicklaus’ record of six wins at Augusta National and three behind his fellow American’s overall major tally of 18.