Former world number one Rory McIlroy has pulled out of The Open at Royal Troon due to concerns over hayfever.
The Northern Irishman said that although playing at The Open would be a dream come true, he had to heed the advice of medical experts who warned that hayfever is a very real risk for all competitors.
McIlroy told reporters, “This is not a decision I’ve taken lightly, and I’m sorry to those fans hoping to see me in Scotland, but I have to take a long-term view of what’s best for me and my health.
“The symptoms of hayfever are no joke, and as someone hoping to get married next year, I don’t want anything to risk that. No-one wants red eyes in their wedding photos.
“There will be other Opens in future, and the risk of hayfever might be lower in years to come, and I look forward to trying to win another claret jug on those occasions.”
Medical experts have said that although the risk of hayfever isn’t particularly high in south-west Scotland at the time of year when The Open is being played, those who fall victim could suffer long-term consequences.
Dr Simon Williams told us, “Sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose – these can literally last for hours, sometimes into the next day.
“Rory asked my advice, and as a medical professional I simply have to advise against taking the risk.”