Rory McIlroy has gripes with the way the European Tour sets up their tournaments, deeming them too easy.
McIlroy has played on the European Tour in each of the last two weeks, playing in the flagship BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth last weekend and alongside his father Gerry in the pro-am Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland. He’s played the eight rounds in a combined 26 under par, and he’s finished T-9 and T-26, respectively.
“I’m sort of honestly sick of coming back over to the European Tour and shooting 15 under par and finishing 30th,” said McIlroy, who finished seven back of winner Victor Perez.
McIlroy said in November 2018 at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, where he’s scheduled to play again in November, that he would let his European Tour membership lapse. He said he wanted to focus on the PGA Tour and being in America with his family, including his wife and in-laws. However, after negotiations with Euro Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, McIlroy agreed to play in three Rolex Series events in exchange for not playing in the Irish Open this year.
In his third non-major-and-non-WGC European Tour start of the year, McIlroy lost in a five-man playoff at the Omega European Masters in Switzerland after posting 14-under total. McIlroy played in the Scottish Open as a precursor for the British Open Championship in July, shooting 13-under total to finish T-34 on an admittedly soft setup at The Renaissance Club.
For McIlroy, it doesn’t seem the winning score is the problem so much as the challenge isn’t enough.
“I don’t think the courses are set up hard enough,” McIlroy said. “There are no penalties for bad shots. It’s tough when you come back and it’s like that. I don’t feel like good golf is regarded as well as it could be. It happened in the Scottish Open at Renaissance. I shot 13 under and finished 30th (sic) again. It’s not a good test. I think if the European Tour wants to put forth a really good product, the golf courses and setups need to be tougher.”
It also doesn’t help McIlroy that he and his dad lost the pro-am to Tommy Fleetwood and amateur partner Ogden Phipps on what amounts to a scorecard playoff. After tying for the pro-am title at 39-under total, tournament rules dictate the winners are the team with the pro who shoots a lower final-round score. Fleetwood shot 64 to beat McIlroy’s 67.
Unfortunately for Pelley and the European Tour, even tougher setups may not necessarily entice McIlroy to play more events. He said he felt validation in winning the FedEx Cup and the peer-voted PGA Tour Player of the Year Award for a statistically superior season. Further, there’s nothing Pelley and company can do about the travel that seems to have worn McIlroy down after being on the road since he was 17.
“It’s been a great year,” McIlroy said. “I’ve won big events and I’ve consistently played well. Every week I show up and I shoot good scores and play good golf. If I continue to do that, I’ll be in a good spot. I don’t want to travel that much anymore. I’ve done it for 12 years. I want to have easy flights and not have to go across eight, nine time zones and have to get acclimatized. I’m happy to do what I’ve done this year.”