Rory McIlroy to step back from European Tour next season
‘If I don’t fulfil my membership, it’s not a Ryder Cup year so it’s not end of the world’
Rory McIlroy ahead of the DP World Tour Championship golf tournament in Dubai. Photograph: AP
Rory McIlroy will concentrate on playing in America next season and is undecided as to whether he will play in four tournaments that represents the minimum requirement to retain European Tour membership for 2019.
The 29-year-old Northern Ireland explained that he had reassessed his playing schedule as a result of a shake in the global calendar that sees the US PGA Championship switch from its traditional slot in August to May.
The US Tour has frontloaded its schedule while it’s the reverse for the European Tour with the majority of their Rolex series events - the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth has moved to September - and the culmination to the Race to Dubai taking place in the second half of the year.
“It is a big shift but I think it’s good for a lot of reasons. It is good for the European Tour because they have events to shine. Wentworth is going to be in September, the Italian Open and a lot of the big events are going to be after the PGA Tour season, so they are going to be the biggest events and strongest events in the world that week which is a good thing.”
Nevertheless his absence would represent a blow particularly in the light of European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley efforts in launching the Rolex Series last year, an effort to prevent Europe’s marquee names from taking off Stateside.
“I am starting my year off in the States and that will be the big focus of mine up until the end of August and then we will assess from there. I guess my thing is that I want to play against the strongest fields week-in and week-out and for the most part of the season that is in America.
“The way the schedule has worked for next year, it is going to be different for a lot of guys. Everything is going to be so condensed between March and August (Majors and Fed-Ex series) and that is why I am taking a big off-season to get myself ready,” a reference to the fact that after Dubai he will play one event, the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in the next 13 weeks.
“If I want to continue to contend in the majors and to continue my journey back towards the top of the game, then that’s what I want to do. Right now that is all sort of up in the air, but if it were to be that I don’t fulfil my membership next year, it’s not a Ryder Cup year so it’s not the end of the world.
“I am always going to want to play the Ryder Cup, so if that does happen so be it and I will try and make the Ryder Cup team the year after.”