Rory McIlroy already owns a World Golf Hall of Fame résumé at 29 years of age, and as he enters into his fourth decade on Earth, he’s planning to tweak his schedule and Tour status to chase a legacy in the game that’s larger than he already holds.
Asked by Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis before this week’s DP World Championships Dubai if he was at the point in his career where success is only measured by wins and performances in majors.
“100 percent, yeah,” McIlroy said. “I played in six final groups this year and I didn’t win out of any of those final groups, so that was disappointing. I look back at The Open at Carnoustie, I look back at the Masters, I look back at the Tour Championship, I look back at Akron. There’s a lot of places where I’ve been so close, but I haven’t played well at the right time.”
In the interest of giving himself the best chance to win against the best fields, McIlroy told reporters off camera that he’s even considering giving up his European Tour card in 2019 in order to do that.
“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.”
While McIlroy will likely be privy to some special circumstances should he require them, a new Ryder Cup rule could have consequences on McIlroy down the road should he forfeit his membership.
“Players cannot be a European Ryder Cup captain or vice captain if they decline membership of the European Tour or fail to fulfill their minimum event obligation in any season.”
Given how the respective schedules are setup in 2019, McIlroy maintaining his European Tour card shouldn’t be too hard to do. Outside of the majors and World Golf Championships, he would have to play in four other events. He’s already committed to two — European Masters in Switzerland and either the Scottish or Irish Open.
With the Race to Dubai truly heating up after the PGA Tour season is over, it would be unlikely that McIlroy couldn’t manage to find two more starts in Europe to maintain his status.