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Rory may be pondering his European Tour future but will still play big home events

Euro exit decision: Rory McIlroy
Euro exit decision: Rory McIlroy

By Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy has revealed that he may not fulfil the requirements for European Tour membership next season, a decision which would rule him out of being a Ryder Cup captain or vice-captain.

Holywood native McIlroy (29) needs to play four European Tour tournaments outside the majors and World Golf Championship events, but currently only has two on his schedule.

He will play The Open, Scottish Open and European Masters and it would be a major shock if he didn't play the Irish Open at Lahinch.

Players must be a member of the European Tour to be eligible to play in the Ryder Cup and, under new regulations introduced in January 2017, "players cannot be a European Ryder Cup captain or a vice-captain if they decline membership of the European Tour or fail to fulfil their minimum event obligation in any season, from 2018 onwards."

"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," McIlroy said ahead of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

"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. Right now that is all sort of up in the air, but 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 that does happen so be it and I will try and make the Ryder Cup team the year after."

McIlroy's decision will be a major blow to European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, who launched the Rolex Series last year in an effort to prevent Europe's star names from flocking to the lucrative US PGA Tour.

The eight events each have a prize fund of at least £5.4million but the US lure is strong for McIlroy whose slim chance to win the Race to Dubai for the fourth time disappeared when he was unable to win last week's Nedbank Golf Challenge.

However he hopes a new driver can help maintain his incredible form at Jumeirah Golf Estates where he has recorded finishes of 3-5-11-1-5-2-1-9.

"Unfortunately the new driver is only going to last a week because I have to get a new one next year again, but at least it gives me a better chance to win this week, I guess," he said

Belfast Telegraph


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