Rory McIlroy says Dunhill Links criticism was misplaced but stands by 'tougher set-ups' call

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'The European golf courses need to be tougher'

Rory McIlroy has admitted that the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship was "not the right place" to voice criticism of European Tour courses.

But the Northern Irishman is sticking with his call for "tougher set-ups".

McIlroy had spoken out on Sunday after finishing seven strokes behind Frenchman Victor Perez but now suggests it was unfair on the pro-am event.

"I was venting yesterday, but I can assure you it came from the right place," he wrote on Instagram.

"I understand voicing concerns about golf course set-ups in Europe to the media at a pro-am event on benign links courses wasn't the right place to do it, or the right people to talk to about it."

The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship uniquely brings together top professionals with amateurs from the world of entertainment over courses at Carnoustie, Kingsbarns and St Andrews, with the likes of singer Justin Timberlake and comedian Bill Murray among those taking part over the four days.

But McIlroy believes his point stands when broadened out to the tour in general and wants a tougher environment to help European golfers compete with their rivals in the United States and the rest of the world.

"Strategy, course management and shot making are important aspects of tournament golf that are being slowly taken out of the game at the top level, not just in Europe but worldwide," he claimed.

"I would personally like to see tougher set-ups in Europe because it will produce better, more complete, young players in the future and that can only be a good thing for the game and our Ryder Cup chances."

Perez, who is based nearby in Dundee, finished on 22 under par, with McIlroy's rounds of 70, 66, 70 and 67 only good enough for joint 26th.

"I'm sick of coming back over to the European Tour and shooting 15 under par and finishing 30th," the former world number one had said.

"I don't think the courses are set up hard enough. There are no penalties for bad shots. It's tough when you come back when it's like that, I don't think good golf is rewarded as well as it could be.

"It happened at the Scottish Open as well. I finished 13, 14 under for the week and finished 30th again. It's not a good test.

"I think, if the European Tour want to put forward a really good product, the golf course and the set-ups need to be tougher."

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