INTERNATIONAL NEWS - Rory McIlroy says he expects an elite field to be dialed in for the World Golf Championships Workday Championship despite the shadow cast by the serious car accident involving Tiger Woods on Tuesday.
Woods suffered serious leg injuries that required lengthy surgery in the single-car, rollover crash in California.
The 15-time major champion, still recovering from a fifth back surgery in December, wasn't in the field for this week's event at Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida, but news that he'd been gravely injured sent shockwaves through the sport.
"It's obviously going to take a bunch of attention away from this golf tournament, but that's nothing to do with us, that doesn't fall on us, and we don't really feel that when we're playing anyway," McIlroy said.
World number four Xander Schauffele said that Woods himself provided the ideal role model for "compartementalizing" - having been able to maintain his focus and keep winning through numerous injuries and upheaval in his personal life.
"I think he was the best at it," Schauffele said. "We all kind of learned from him. He played some of the best golf with so much crazy stuff going on in his life, injuries and all kinds of crazy stuff.
"He is the reason a lot of us are playing golf and the reason a lot of us do what we do," Schauffele said. "I can tell you it's very quiet on site for the most part."
World number one Dustin Johnson, second-ranked Jon Rahm and No. 3 Justin Thomas are all in the field for the first WGC event of the 2020-21 PGA Tour season, following the cancellation of the WGC-HSBC Champions in October.
Because of logistical issues created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the event was moved from Mexico - where Patrick Reed lifted the trophy last year.
"It's different than Mexico, that's for sure," McIlroy said.
"It's a big golf course, undulating greens ... they can tuck some pins away here and put them in some difficult spots.
"It's a bit of an unknown. No one's been here before. But it's certainly a great venue."
Spain's Rahm, who was tied for third behind Reed last year in Mexico, also has experience playing Concession as a collegiate golfer in the United States.
"It's a challenging golf course tee to green, difficult," Rahm said. "It's going to test every part of our game. Everything needs to be on."