Sam Torrance: McIlroy absence will be felt hard by European Tour as new-look Wentworth waits in wings

 
Sam Torrance
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BMW PGA Championship - Day Four
Chris Wood was crowned BMW PGA Championship winner in 2016 (Source: Getty)

It's a massive blow for the European Tour that world No2 Rory McIlory has been forced to withdraw from this week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, which begins on Thursday.

Not only is the PGA Championship the flagship event for the European Tour but it represents the inaugural competition of the Rolex Series – eight tournaments with a minimum prize fund of $7 million.

It is also the first staging of the PGA Championship at Wentworth since the latest redesign of the West Course, which has seen greens on the eighth, 11th, 14th and 16th holes completely rebuilt and another five partially remodelled. All bunkers have also been redesigned.

I’ve been around the revamped course and it looks magnificent. We will have to wait and see how it plays but I believe they’ve ironed out the problems and the course should play very well.

But while it’s bad for the Tour that McIlroy isn’t featuring, as he is exactly the sort of big name that the tournament will want to attract, the main concern is how damaging it is for the four-time Major winner himself that he cannot compete.

He’s had his injury woes over the last year so and he’ll just want rid of them. This time it’s the ribs and they are evil. You just cannot play after incurring a rib injury, it’s impossible, as there is simply too much pain on impact.

The 28-year-old, who won the PGA Championship at the Surrey course in 2014, was treated for a stress fracture to the ribs earlier in the year, but felt discomfort at the Players Championship in Florida earlier this month.

Let’s hope that the Northern Irishman is okay and can be put back together in the coming weeks and return to the course as soon as possible.

One man who will be playing is defending champion Chris Wood, who 12 months ago became the first English winner of the tournament in four years when he claimed a one-shot victory over Sweden’s Rikard Karlberg. I foresee him doing well again this week.

Someone who needs a mention and a pat on the back from the weekend is Spain’s Alvaro Quiros, who defeated Zander Lombard of South Africa at the second play-off hole at the Rocco Forte Open in Sicily.

Quiros led by seven shots after six holes of the final round but three bogeys and a double bogey on the back nine left him needing to sink a 10ft putt to force a play-off. That was a brave putt as, for me, if he’d missed it that would have been the end of his career.

He’s a good player but the weakness with the 34-year-old is between the ears. If he’d have lost that with the lead he had it would have been heartbreaking and very hard to come back from. But all’s well that ends well – happy days.

Victory was Qurios’ first title win since claiming the DP World Tour Championship in 2011 and ensured he regained his European Tour card. Well done Alvaro.

Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam

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