Despite his previous comments to the contrary, Rory McIlroy will be an official European Tour member in 2019.
While the golf world prepares for the second act of major championship golf before June, McIlroy’s agent confirmed to Bob Harig of ESPN.com that the No. 4-ranked player in the world had signed up for a membership on his home tour prior to the May 1 deadline.
McIlroy made it clear in the wraparound portion of the 2018-19 season that his priorities had shifted.
“For the most part of the season, (the best fields are) in America,” McIlroy told GolfChannel’s Todd Lewis at the DP World Championships Dubai in November. “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.
“Everyone has to look out for themselves. And next year, I’m looking out for me.”
That stance softened after McIlroy had a meeting with European Tour CEO Keith Pelley a month later. The result of the meeting was a realistic appeasement for McIlroy.
The European Tour requires that he needed to play only four tournaments outside of the major championships and World Golf Championship events, however since he waited longer to join the Tour, his early-season appearances at the WGC-Match Play and the WGC-Mexico Championship will not count towards his Race to Dubai standings.
With expected starts at the Scottish Open two weeks prior to July’s Open Championship and another at the BMW PGA Championship in September, McIlroy will have to find two other tournaments to fit his schedule to fulfill his commitment.
Were McIlroy not to take up and fulfill his European Tour membership, his future as a European Ryder Cup captain would have come into question as current rules state that a European Tour captain maintains a European Tour membership of his playing career.