Rory McIlroy does a juggling act each year, trying to maintain both PGA Tour and European Tour membership. The latter is especially important because it’s a prerequisite to qualify for the European Ryder Cup team.
However, McIlroy has given some serious thought to ditching European Tour membership, particularly once he settles down a little.
“It’s a dilemma a lot of the guys are dealing with,” McIlroy said to the Telegraph. “A few years down the line, if I had a family in the States, I’d have to strongly consider it, too. To be honest, there have been times when I have contemplated not playing on the European Tour, already.”
McIlroy has to play a minimum number of 15 PGA Tour events and 13 European Tour tournaments to keep status on both tours. He has the four majors and four World Golf Championships events that are co-sanctioned by both tours (though the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational won’t be sanctioned by the European Tour in 2016), so that leaves him seven PGA Tour starts and five European Tour starts. At a minimum, then, McIlroy must play 20 tournaments. The number isn’t grueling, but, given the worldwide nature of his docket, McIlroy logs a lot of travel miles.
The world No. 3 knows, however, that he has leverage over new European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley. Were McIlroy to ditch European Tour membership, he knows Pelley would almost have to acquiesce to the Ulsterman and change the Ryder Cup eligibility rules. McIlroy isn’t prepared to do that quite yet.
“I do know that if I said, ‘Look, I don’t want to play the European Tour, or at least not be a member anymore,’ then the Ryder Cup rules would change,” said McIlroy, who won the Dubai Desert Classic this season. “I understand that, and it might help out a few of the other guys over there. But I don’t want to put the European Tour in that sort of position, because I owe a great deal to them. They gave me playing opportunities at the start of my career and I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”