Rory McIlroy ruffled some feathers earlier this week when he revealed to a gaggle of reporters at this week’s DP World Tour Championship, Dubai that he was considering giving up his European Tour membership in 2019 due to a lack of starts on the circuit.
“For the most part of the season, (the best fields are) in America,” McIlroy said, taking a dig at the fields he cut his chops on in the early part of his career. “Right now, that is all sort of up in the air, but if it were to be that I don’t fulfill 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.”
Paul McGinley, an Irishman, openly questioned and clearly stated his disappointment in McIlroy’s decision in his SkySports.com column.
“It’s quite extraordinary that Rory’s not going to play just two more events to fulfill his European Tour membership next season,” McGinley wrote. “It’s very disappointing and it is obviously a blow for the European Tour.
“I’ve been racking my brains wondering how that can be. Obviously, Rory sees it in other ways and has got his own rationale for that, although I’m finding it hard to understand! Of the 12 players that represented Europe in the Ryder Cup this year, Rory is the only one who is going to do that and the others have all signed up to play the minimum of four events outside of the majors and WGCs.”
McGinley laid out the advantageous scheduling changes that the PGA Tour’s season ending in August provides for those who wish to finish their season in Europe. He wondered aloud — or in writing — “Is Rory going to play in (the PGA Tour’s Asian Swing) rather than play in Dubai? Or is he just not going to play at all over the last four months?”
— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) November 14, 2018
Pointing out that the European Tour has made it as simple as possible for its players who want to compete on the PGA Tour primarily to retain membership by lowering the number events required to just four outside of the major championships and World Golf Championships, McGinley said he doesn’t feel four starts is “a huge task to meet.”
While McIlroy can take up membership once again in in 2020 in order to make and play on the European Ryder Cup team at Whistling Straits, a provision enacted in January would prevent him from being a vice-captain or captain in the future should he forego his membership in 2019.
McGinley doesn’t see that as on McIlroy’s radar.
“I don’t think Rory is worried about what is going to happen in 20 years, which is what he would be looking at if he was going to become Ryder Cup captain or vice-captain,” he wrote. “At this moment, he is worried about his golf and focused on what he’s doing in the next 12 months.”