McGirt skipping WGC for Sanderson pro-am


Next week many of the world's best players will gather in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions, a lucrative, no-cut event where last year last place walked away with $40,000. It's a tournament most PGA Tour pros would love to add to their schedule, but William McGirt has opted not to participate.

Instead, he'll be at the Sanderson Farms Championship in Jackson, Miss. Or rather, he'll be there for the pro-am.

McGirt, 37, had a career season in 2015-16 highlighted by his playoff victory at the Memorial. He is currently ranked No. 42 in the world and certainly fits the mold of a player expected to grab some quick cash - and OWGR points - with a trip to Shanghai.

But McGirt has played the Sanderson Farms event each of the last five years, finishing T-2 a year ago. Between the long travel to China from his home in South Carolina and his affinity for the opposite-field event, McGirt will remain States-side next week.

"You spend 12 hours in a metal tube flying halfway around the world, and then two or three days getting over that. Then you fly back another 12 hours and it takes your body a week or so to get over that," McGirt told Mississippi Today. "I just don't want to do it - no interest at all in doing it, really. I'd rather support Steve (Jent) and Joe Sanderson and the hospital there."

Despite his motivations, Tour bylaws prohibit McGirt from skipping a WGC event to tee it up in a different Tour event held at the same time. As a result, McGirt won't be among the tournament field when Peter Malnati defends his title, but he'll still head to Jackson to play in the Wednesday pro-am before returning home.

"I want to support a tournament I love and a cause I believe in," McGirt said. "So that's what I'm going to do."

McGirt also noted that Sanderson plans to expand his poultry business into the area of North Carolina where McGirt grew up, a decision that will bring "a lot of jobs for a lot of folks that need jobs where I come from."

"I'd love to play in the tournament itself, but I can't," McGirt said. "So I'm going to do whatever I can to help."