Rory McIlroy won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational title in 2014. He couldn't defend in 2015 as he was recovering from an ankle injury that also kept him from defending the Open Championship. He won't play at Firestone C.C. in 2016, either, choosing to support the European Tour instead.
McIlroy will play in the 100th French Open, played June 30 - July 3, scheduled this year opposite the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. For 2016 only, the European Tour chose not to co-sanction the WGC event, giving preference to the centennial in Paris, including offering bonus Ryder Cup points. This will be McIlroy's third appearance at Le Golf National and first since 2010.
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In a release, McIlroy said the French Open will help his prep for the Open at Royal Troon two weeks later.
“Le Golf National might not be a pure links course, but it is traditionally firm and fast and can throw up some tricky conditions during the French Open," he said. "It’s a great test of golf and I think playing there, as well as staying in Europe, will offer the best conditions to prepare for the Open at Troon."
This is a substantial blow to the Akron, Ohio, event, though most of the world top 50 will still be in the field.
Typically, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is played the week before the PGA Championship in late July or early August. However, with golf moving its schedule to accommodate golf's return to the Olympics, the WGC was moved to precede the Open.