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Rory McIlroy aimed some criticism at the European Tour, saying the courses are too easy

‘I’m honestly sick of shooting 15 under par and finishing 30th’: Rory McIlroy says courses in Europe are too easy

  • Rory McIlroy finished tied 26th at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
  • The Northern Irishman hit six birdies on the final day to finish 15 under par 
  • He went on to say that courses in Europe are not set up hard enough for players
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Rory McIlroy rounded off a fortnight’s golf in Britain with six straight birdies on Sunday and a pointed barb in the direction of the European Tour — the courses are set up too easy.

At the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Frenchman Victor Perez celebrated a maiden tour success, and gracious runner-up Matthew Southgate showed the perspective of a man who thought he would have to give up the game after being diagnosed with testicular cancer four years ago. But it will be Rory’s thoughts that prove a bigger talking point.

‘I’m honestly sick of coming back to Europe and shooting 15 under par and finishing 30th (he was actually tied 26th),’ said the Northern Irishman. ‘I don’t think the courses are set up hard enough. There’s no penalty for bad shots. It’s tough when you come back and it’s like that. I don’t feel like good golf is as well regarded as it should be.’

Rory McIlroy aimed some criticism at the European Tour, saying the courses are too easy

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Rory McIlroy aimed some criticism at the European Tour, saying the courses are too easy

McIlroy, who intends to raise the issue with the tour’s chief executive Keith Pelley, pointed out that the same thing happened the last time he played in Scotland in July.

‘At the Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club, I shot 13 under and finished tied 34th,’ he said. ‘If the tour wants to put forward a really good product, then the set-ups have to be tougher.’

McIlroy’s views are understandable given that he has just come off a season in America where his imperious stats from tee to green gained their due reward, with three wins and a near weekly residency in the top 10. When the fairways are generous and there is little rough around the putting surfaces, it is harder for those virtues to stand out.

Over the final nine holes at St Andrews, the Dunhill came down to a shootout between two men without a victory to their name. Southgate, 30, from Essex, was playing in his 140th tour event and had a two-shot lead with five holes to play. But his advantage was wiped out at the par five 14th, with a bogey to Perez’s birdie.

Southgate hit a marvellous approach from a difficult lie at the 17th but the Road Hole claimed yet another victim, when he three-putted that notoriously difficult green from long range. It proved the difference in the end.

The Northern Irishman finished 15 under par but that only saw him tied 26th at St Andrews

The Northern Irishman finished 15 under par but that only saw him tied 26th at St Andrews

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The Northern Irishman finished 15 under par but that only saw him tied 26th at St Andrews

‘I’m gutted, obviously, but chuffed to bits at the same time given all the great players I’ve beaten this week,’ he said. ‘Victor’s a real gentleman and never missed a shot all day. If I couldn’t win my first title, I’m thrilled that it’s him who had the honour instead.’

Southgate was one of no fewer than a Ryder Cup team’s worth of Englishmen to finish in the top 22 — and two more of the 12 deserve special mention. Tied fifth was 23-year-old Matt Jordan from Royal Liverpool, who has been playing on the Challenge Tour all summer and was competing in just his 10th event among the big boys. His reward was a cheque for £125,000 that was, by a long chalk, the largest of his career to date.

And how about Harry Hall, from West Cornwall. Three weeks ago, the 21-year-old was playing in Britain and Ireland’s losing Walker Cup side. Here, making his pro debut, he found himself alongside McIlroy for the final round. He shot a nerveless 65 to finish tied 15th and earn more than £50,000.

As for McIlroy, those six successive birdies meant that he and his dad Gerry finished tied first in the team format with Tommy Fleetwood and his partner, American Ogden Phipps. Fleetwood got the nod for the better final round — a fabulous 64, to Rory’s 67.

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