Rory McIlroy admits he doesn't know whether he will renew his European Tour card
Rory McIlroy has shocked the golfing world by revealing he's unsure whether he'll maintain his membership of the European Tour next season or not.
Ahead of this week's DP Tour Championship, the World No.7 revealed that he may not fulfil the requirements for membership next season after the shake-up of the global calendar caused by the US PGA Championship moving from August to May.
The Players Championship, accurately dubbed the unofficial 'fifth Major' will now be played in September, adding to McIlroy's commitments in the States throughout the year as opposed to concentrated stays.
It would be a huge blow for the European Tour, who already struggle to compete with the PGA Tour due to the increased prize funds and the strength of the fields, if McIlroy was to jump ship.
PGA Tour officials have already announced plans to double the prize pot for the FedEx Cup to $70m, meaning the end-of-season winner now takes home a whopping $15m prize, while there's a $10m bonus for the season-ending money leader as well.
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29-year old McIlroy has already confirmed that he will play at the Irish Open at Lahinch in July, and he is already locked in for the European Masters in Switzerland in September 2019, however it looks increasingly likely that Lahinch will be his first European Tour appearance of the season.
McIlroy usually starts off his season in the middle east for the European Tour's 'Desert Swing', but the Holywood man confirmed this morning that won't be the case in 2019.
"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," said McIlroy, who needs to play four European Tour tournaments outside the majors and WGC events, but currently only has two on his schedule.
"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."
Belfast Telegraph Digital