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McIlroy reverses course on Open decision, will play in 2015 he now says

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In late February, during the 2014 Honda Classic, in Florida, Rory McIlroy made a verbal commitment to Open tournament president Duke Butler to come to the Silverado Resort in October 2014 to play the PGA Tour season opener. Six months later, after two major championship victories and a sprint to the top of the World Golf Rankings, the 25-year-old Northern Irishman has found that the success attending his ascent to the pinnacle of the sport overrides his previous commitment to the Open.

Tournament organizers announced Tuesday, August 12, that McIlroy had informed them last week, through his manager, Sean O’Flaherty, that he would likely have to delay his appearance at the Northern California event. McIlroy has followed up that communication with a letter stating his commitment to play the event in 2015.

McIlroy is one of eight top players—the others are Americans Hunter Mahan, Tiger Woods, Matt Kuchar, and Webb Simpson; England’s Lee Westwood and Justin Rose, and Charl Schwartzel, of South Africa—who played a non-Tour event in Turkey in 2012 in the same week as the Fry’s, and entered into an agreement with PGA Tour officials to play the Open sometime within the next three years.

McIlroy’s written commitment to the 2015 Fry’s is a meaningless gesture, actually, as it is the last year in the three-year time period within which he and the others agreed to play in the Open in exchange for the Tour’s permission to appear in the Turkish event in 2012. Mahan and Westwood have already committed to the 2014 Frys, and others among the eight may yet sign on, but if they don’t show this year, they too will have committed, by default, to an appearance in 2015. Open tournament president Duke Butler issued the following statement in the wake of McIlroy’s announcement: “Fry’s congratulates Rory on his victories and looks forward to him playing next year. We are going to have an outstanding tournament this year with many well-known professionals competing at Silverado.”

Defending Open Champion Jimmy Walker made an early commitment to play in the 2014 event, as did his 2014 Ryder Cup teammate Patrick Reed. Walker, whose win in the 2013 Frys was his first PGA Tour victory, added two more victories to his 2013-2014 tally later in the season at the Sony Open and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

The three wins, plus six more Top 10 finishes and a total of 16 Top 25s kept Walker in the #1 spot in the FedEx cup standings for 35 of the 36 weeks of the season to date. Walker only relinquished the top spot in the FedEx Cup rankings last week, to McIlroy, whose PGA Championship victory slipped him ahead of Walker by a scant 89 points.