Rory McIlroy’s Open withdrawal a huge blow, says Graeme McDowell

Graeme McDowell is not surprised world No. 1 Rory McIlroy has withdrawn from next week’s Open Championship at St Andrews.

McIlroy yesterday confirmed he will not tee up next week in the defence of the famed Claret Jug as he continues to recover from a ruptured ligament in his left ankle, the legacy of a friendly football match last weekend.

McDowell was contesting a Pro-Am ahead of the start of today’s Scottish Open when he learnt of McIlroy’s withdrawal from golf’s oldest Major.

McIlroy’s potential showdown with double Major winner Jordan Spieth was eagerly anticipated but the American will now start the tournament as the favourite.

“It’s hugely disappointing, especially with him and Jordan and everything that’s going on,” said McDowell.

“No-one would love to stop Jordan in his tracks next week more than Rory. With the fun rivalry going on and everything, he’s going to be gutted. I saw the Old Course last Saturday and I believed that Rory was rightly a favourite. I thought he’d get it done round there.

“I’m sure he’s really disappointed. I sent him a text during the week to wish him all the best.

“I was reading between the lines as to what the description of his injury was so really I wasn’t expecting him to play in the Open, so I’m not surprised he’s pulled out. However, it’s a massive blow for the tournament.”

McIlroy had earlier bowed to the inevitable on his Instagram account.

“After much consideration I have decided not to play in the Open Championship at St Andrews,” he wrote. “I’m taking a long-term view of this injury and, although rehab is progressing well, I want to come back to tournament play when I feel 100% healthy and 100% competitive.”

Meanwhile, Pádraig Harrington has criticised US presidential candidate Donald Trump for referring to Mexican immigrants as ‘rapists’ and ‘killers’. The PGA of America has stripped Trump from hosting the 2015 Grand Slam of Golf, an event featuring the four Majors winners each season, from being hosted at his Los Angeles club later this year.

And Harrington said the comments were an affront to immigrants around the world.

“Speaking as an Irish-born person that is the exact same thing that was long said about the Irish nation, and sometimes it is still said about the Irish people.

“We are a nation of immigrants like the Mexicans are a nation of immigrants and you can be harshly judged, and everything he (Trump) said I am thinking that is how the Irish were treated.

“In a different time in the history of the world, the word ‘Irish’ could have been in the remark than the word ‘Mexicans’ bringing trouble a country with their fighting, drinking and whatever. It’s easy to blame immigrants for trouble but then one bad egg should not colour a whole nation of people.”

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