Rory McIlroy defends his right to have a life

Warren Little

Rory McIlroy said Wednesday that he deserved criticism for missing last week’s HSBC Champions tournament, but the world No. 1 defended his decision to spend time with his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki instead.

"I think the criticism is fair,” McIlroy told The Guardian in response to a sponsor, who ripped the two-time champ as well as Tiger Woods for skipping the China contest. “It's a World Golf Championship event, one of the big ones. It was a tough one to miss, especially watching it on television.

The 23-year-old, who’s playing in this week’s Singapore Open, took heat earlier in the year from some who blamed his mid-season slump on his extracurricular activities. But the Northern Irishman who’s on the verge of capturing the money titles on the PGA and European Tours explained that he needed the hiatus after a hectic end to the PGA Tour campaign to recharge his batteries.

“I can't play every week,” said McIlroy, who recently teed it up in another part of China for a one-on-one exhibition with Woods. “If I had played that I would have finished the season having played in Turkey, after the Ryder Cup and the FedEx Cup stuff. It's just too much and one event had to miss out and that was it.”

Besides, reasoned McIlroy, who watched Wozniacki lose the WTA Tournament of Champions title in Bulgaria rather than play on a course he “didn’t really like,” managing a balance between his on- and off-course life was critical to his well-being.

"I thought I did a little bit better this season than I did last year after I won the U.S. Open in 2011. People want more of you, they want you to do more things and you have to learn how to say 'no,’” McIlroy said.

"You have to be selfish sometimes. First and foremost, you have to look after yourself and fit in the things that you want to do. I am in a fortunate position that I can dictate where I want to play, what I want to do and where I want to go and as long as I am in that position then that's lovely."

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