PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy won’t hit a shot this week at The Players, but they’ve grabbed the attention of the analysts covering this week’s event.
Westwood, No. 1 in the world, and McIlroy, No. 6, chose not to play.
“It’s an affront to the championship,” NBC Sports' Johnny Miller said in a teleconference Wednesday morning. “It’s a statement. I’m not sure what the statement is. It’s a bit of a cloud why.”
Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee was equally perplexed by the decisions.
“I think they are making a mistake,” Chamblee said. “It’s ironic both players have the same manager. I’m not sure it’s a coincidence.”
Chubby Chandler, manager for both players, told GolfChannel.com Tuesday that there’s no slight intended. He said Europeans and non-PGA Tour members do not view The Players the same way that Americans and PGA Tour members do. He said the event's not as much of a priority.
Given PGA Tour non-member scheduling restrictions, Westwood said he believes not playing The Players gives him the best chance of winning the U.S. Open. As a non-member of the PGA Tour, Westwood is limited to competing in 10 PGA Tour events a year. Even though the Tour stipulated late last year that The Players wouldn’t count against the 10, Westwood said the limitation still created too much havoc in his scheduling.
McIlroy said the course doesn’t suit his game.
'I think it's a mistake and a little short-sighted,' NBC Sports' Roger Maltbie said. 'You hear the best players say they want to play against the best players in the world. That's a measure of greatness, playing against the best players possible, and they're here.'