Scotland may be the home of golf but, as far as Rory McIlroy is concerned, it’s not the home of tough tests.

While the set-up of the courses in the Dunhill Links Championship can be as accommodating as a cosy B&B to take into account the amateur aspect of this links bonanza, there was no disguising McIlroy’s disgruntlement as he reflected on two outings on Scottish soil this season.

During four days in which there were more birdies blasted than a grouse shoot on the Glorious Twelfth, McIlroy’s final round five-under 67 for a 15-under aggregate was only good enough for a place just inside the top 30.

Back in July, the current world No 2 finished with a 13-under total in the Scottish Open at a very forgiving Renaissance course and finished down in a share of 34th.


Haste ye back? Well, not quite. “You know, I’m sort of sick of coming back over to the European Tour and shooting 15-under par and finishing 30th,” said McIlroy with a softly spoken yet withering assessment.

“I don’t think the courses are set up hard enough. There are no penalties for bad shots. It’s tough when you come back when it’s like that. I don’t feel like good golf is regarded as well as it could be.

“It happened at the Scottish Open, at The Renaissance, as well. It’s not a good test. I think if the European Tour want to put forth a really good product, the golf courses and set ups need to be tougher.”

Those words will have the tour’s high heid yins muttering and mumbling in concerned tones. McIlroy is, after all, the circuit’s star attraction even though he plys most of his trade on the PGA Tour in the US.

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When the Northern Irishman announced late last year that he wouldn’t be renewing his European Tour membership, the worried rumblings just about fused the Richter Scale on this side of the pond.

McIlroy eventually performed a U-turn and re-joined the tour in May but the views he expressed before departing St Andrews yesterday hardly made for encouraging listening.

McIlroy came in for some hefty criticism for putting more of a focus on the PGA Tour but, having won the The Players’ Championship, the Canadian Open and the Tour Championship during a highly consistent and profitable campaign across the pond, the 30-year-old is sticking to the decisions that continue to serve him well.

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“I’m happy to do what I’ve done this year,” he said of his future plans. “I don’t want to travel that much anymore.

“I’ve done it for 12 years and I want to have these easy flights and not have to go across eight, nine time zones all the time to get acclimatised and all that. Winning the FedExCup was validation of that decision to play a few more (events) in the States.

“I’m getting stick but I’m turning down millions of dollars to go to Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia because I want to do the right thing by playing on the courses I want to play at. I don’t think I should get stick for that because I feel like I’m doing the right thing.”

McIlroy was trying desperately to win the team event in partnership with his dad, Gerry. They finished level at the top on 39-under with Tommy Fleetwood and his amateur partner, Ogden Phipps, but Fleetwood’s closing 64, compared to McIlroy’s 67, won it in the tie-breaker.