SINCE HE SEALED a memorable US Open victory at Congressional last month, Rory McIlroy has enjoyed his lap of honour.
Tennis at Wimbledon, heavyweight boxing title fights and a homecoming in Holywood have filled his schedule rather than European Tour events.
When he tees off at Sandwich next Thursday at the start of the British Open it will be the first competitive shot since his last at the 18th in Maryland.
But today McIlroy has responded to criticism from Colin Montgomerie and others of his preparation for the Major.
The 22-year-old wrote on his website: “Some people may have wondered why I chose to go from one major straight to another without anything in between and the answer is simple.
“Because of what happened at Congressional and the way it became such a big deal I wanted to get everything out of the way and sorted so that when I did start playing again I could just concentrate on golf.
“If I had gone to France (he pulled out of last week’s French Open) I just would not have been able to practise or prepare properly. Every time I play I want to go out there with a chance to win and that wouldn’t have happened. There were so many commitments and so much media to do that I would have not been able to give my best, so I decided to wait until I was absolutely ready.
“I didn’t touch a club for 10 days after the US Open and then after just hitting balls on the range at home it did feel good when I finally got out on the course again.
“That was at Wentworth on Monday when I did a company day for Jumeirah and then I went down to Royal St George’s on Tuesday and Wednesday so that I could get a good look before too many people were there.
“The practice was great because we had one calm day and one when the wind got up so I got a great feel of what we can expect.”
And though McIlroy will indeed be present next year, he has been denied a much-hyped showdown.
“Tiger Woods won’t have a chance this year because unfortunately he has not recovered from his injuries,” he writes.
“It’s always a disappointment when Tiger isn’t in the field because people want to see him play and he brings so much to the game. On the other hand, when he isn’t there it increases my and everybody else’s chances, but I’d certainly prefer him to be there.”