McIlroy’s next stop The Open

Rory McIlroy confirmed on touchdown at Heathrow Airport on Tuesday that he had withdrawn from next week’s French Open.

Rory McIlroy confirmed on his touchdown at Heathrow Airport on Tuesday that he had withdrawn from next week’s French Open outside Paris.

The 22-year-old, youngest-ever US Open champion came out of the plane with his infectious smile as wide as a barn door, despite his lack of sleep.

McIlroy celebrated into Monday morning after clinching his first major victory at Congressional on Sunday and had barely an hour’s sleep before entertaining lucky clients at a company day on Cape Cod.

From there is was onto the jet that brought him back to the UK and from here he’ll be off to a recording of a game show with Ant and Dec before heading home to Holywood, near Belfast for a good long rest.

He won’t play in the French Open and indeed won’t strike another ball in competition until the Open Championship at Sandwich in Kent starting on July 14.

“I’m really looking forward to my break,” he told reporters. ‘I know I’m biased but Northern Ireland really is the best place on earth.’

Fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell also missed the French Open after his US Open triumph last year, but he came back in the week before the Open to play in the Scottish Open and felt it may have been a little to soon in view of the enormous amount of time it invariable takes to keep friends, fans and the media happy in the first weeks after winning a major.

McIllroy, who showed he is a very quick learner by the way he bounced back from his final round Masters implosion in April to win so handsomely at Congressional that he made himself look like a seasoned professional many years older than his 22 years.

McIlroy, believes he will need more than a week to shake off all the stress and pressure that he had to face as a wire-to-wire winner at Congressional and has decided to opt out of the Scottish Open in spite of the fact that it has been moved this year from the parkland course at Loch Lomond to the highly regarded new links course at Castle Stewart precisely so that Open Championship hopefuls will get a chance to sharpen their links skills ahead of the tough inland links layout at Royal St George’s where only the winner, Ben Curtis, was able to break par on the last occasion it hosted The Open

World No 1 Luke Donald and No 2 Lee Westwood are also not playing at Le Golf National, recently selected as the venue for the 2018 Ryder Cup, and it means that World number three and US PGA champion Martin Kaymer is now the only top-10 player in the French field..

Indeed so many big guns are taking a break after their exertions at the US Open, only nine of the World’s top 50 will be playing in the French Open.

It’s not all bad news however for the French galleries, however.

A big bonus for them is that one of those nine will be the American left-handed bomber Bubba Watson, who is generally regarded as the longest hitter on the US Tour and along with Alvaro Quiros of Spain, one of the longest in the world.

Watson, one of the most exciting of the younger generation of home-grown golfers coming through during an apparent changing of the guard in American golf, will be making his first start in a non-major in Europe.

Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez won the title last year and will be back to defend it.