Northern Irish golfer’s focus next year is on the PGA Tour and the majors
Rory McIlroy has revealed that his priority in 2019 will be the PGA Tour in America as he bids to contend for next year’s major championships.
The four-time major winner is set to step back from the European Tour. This could mean he fails to fulfil the requirements for membership next season.
Changes in next year’s global golf calendar will see the US PGA Tour “frontloading its schedule”, says the The Irish Times, and the US PGA Championship major moving from August to May. Meanwhile, the European Tour’s biggest Race to Dubai and Rolex Series events will take place in the second half of 2019.
For McIlroy to keep his European Tour membership he would have to play in four tournaments as well as the majors and World Golf Championship events. He has only committed to two events, the BBC reports.
In Dubai ahead of the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, the world No.7 said: “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 and that is why I am taking a big off-season to get myself ready.
“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.”
After the Dubai finale, the Northern Irishman will only play once in the next 13 weeks as he prepares for the 2019 campaign.
A blow for the European Tour
The BBC’s golf correspondent Iain Carter says that if McIlroy loses his membership it would be a huge blow for the European Tour.
Given that 2019 isn’t a Ryder Cup year the 29-year-old says it wouldn’t be the end of the world. “Right now that’s all up in the air,” said the former world No.1. “But if it were to be that I don’t fulfil my membership next year it is not a Ryder Cup year so it is not the end of the world.
“I’m always going to want to play the Ryder Cup so if that does happen, so be it, and I try to make the Ryder Cup team the year after. It is a big shift but I think it is good for a lot of reasons.”
The Irish Independent says that should McIlroy fail to fulfil the European Tour membership requirements next season he would be ruled out of being a future Ryder Cup captain or vice-captain.