McIlroy dodges favouritism claims by playing British Masters

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Rory McIlroy has revealed that his late call to play at the British Masters was partly aimed at silencing any critics who say he has had preferential treatment.

The Northern Irishman has his sights set on playing in next year's Ryder Cup, but has only played in three European Tour events during an injury-hit season which is short of the required total to be eligible.

However, when fitness issues prevented him meeting that requirement in 2015, he was afforded a special exemption to stay in the Race to Dubai, which he went on to win and consequently came in for criticism.

"I want to play the Ryder Cup next year so obviously I've got to play my five events a year, so that was a big decision into that," McIlroy said of his decision to accept an invite to play at Close House from tournament host Lee Westwood.

"Obviously there's minimums and stuff like that. I've sort of been quite close to the edge on minimums the last few years and didn't really want to put the European Tour in another sticky position ... and not have to have them make the hard decision and have to answer to the membership about why I didn't play the minimum when I could have."

The four-time major champion's season, which has failed to yield a title, will conclude at the Alfred Dunhill Masters next week before he seeks a period of rest as he bids to return to full fitness for the 2018 season.

McIlroy has been struggling with a rib injury.