McIlroy bailing on European membership for 2019?
Rory McIlroy sent shockwaves through the European Tour, event sponsors and his enormous Irish fan base after hinting at the possibility of not contesting next year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch.
And in a second big surprise, McIlroy suggested he may also abandon taking-up 2019 European Tour membership.
Rory McIlroy won the Irish Open in 2016 (Credit: European Tour)
McIlroy has played host for the past four years at the Irish Open and in the process attracting sponsors Dubai Duty Free plus managing to entice some of the world’s best to tee-up.
With McIlroy’s star-power backing, the Irish Open was elevated to become one of the eight mega-bucks Rolex Series events.
In 2016, there were also the unprecedented scenes when McIlroy pulled-off one of the shots of his career down the final hole to win his maiden Irish Open at the K Club.
But all that could change next year with McIlroy likely not to take up European Tour membership and also tossing up between playing either the 2019 Irish Open or the following week’s Scottish Open.
Given a totally revamped 2019 season that features the Players Championship in March, the PGA Championship in May and the BMW PGA Championship moving to September, it would make sense for the former world number one to tee it up at the Scottish Open in early July and just a week prior to the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
“Right now, I’ve got two events on my schedule in Europe and I don’t have to commit to that until next year,” he said.
“They’re the Irish or Scottish Open.”
“I am going to try and play the week before Majors as three of my four Major wins have been by playing the week before. So, that’s sort of up in the air right now and I will play the European Masters at Crans.”
“I will go to Crans after the Tour Championship as I am obligated to play one of the Omega sponsored events as I am not going to play in Dubai.”
What is known at this stage is that McIlroy will end his 2018 season at this week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai and he will compete at the January 3rd starting Sentry Tournament of Championship at Maui in Hawaii.
He’ll then take five-weeks off, missing the European Tour’s ‘Desert Swing’ for the first time in his career, ahead of playing in the February 14th starting Tiger Woods-hosted Genesis Open in L.A.
“I am starting my year off in Hawaii and that will be the big focus of mine up until the end of August and then we will access from there,” said McIlroy.
“I’ve got a couple of ‘pure’ European Tour events on my schedule up until the end of August. I guess my thing is that I want to play against the strongest field’s week-in and week-out and for the most part of the season that is in America.”
“If I want to continue to contend in the Majors and 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.”
“So, yes right now my European Tour membership 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 anything, if that does happen so be it and I will try and make the Ryder Cup team the year after.”