Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy is unlikely to keep his European Tour card next year despite the heavy Ryder Cup implications.
The Northern Irishman, who has not won a Major since his prolific 2014 season, could give up membership to his home tour as he plans on playing in America from January to August.
This is the first serious blow for the European Tour since the PGA Tour announced its revamped schedule for next season.
‘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, and to have that break and impose an off-season on myself and then go at it hard from March all the way through to basically the end of the season,’ said McIlroy.
McIlroy has confirmed his participation in the European Masters, due to his sponsorship obligations, and the Scottish Open. At this stage, he has not yet signed up for the Irish Open, the tournament that his foundation helped sponsor over the past few years and will miss the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship for the first time.
‘It’s up in the air,’ he said on his stance towards his national championship.
‘I’ve got two events on my schedule in Europe. I am starting my year off in the US [in Hawaii] and that tour will be the big focus of mine up until the end of August and then we will assess from there.
‘I’ve a couple “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 fields 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 my journey back towards the top of the game, then that’s what I want to do.
‘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 with a year ago.’
The added implications for his decision will heavily impact the Ryder Cup as no player who declines membership of the European Tour or who fails to fulfil their minimum event obligation in any season is eligible for captaincy or vice-captaincy of the Ryder Cup.
McIlroy has endured a difficult 2018 campaign where he lost to Haotong Li at the Dubai Desert Classic and won just once worldwide after triumphing at Bay Hill’s Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.
Photo: Getty Images