The European Tour has announced huge increases to the winner's cheques at the final three events of the season, will they be enough to tempt McIlroy to play?
Will Rory McIlroy Join The European Tour This Season?
At the DP World Tour Championship last year, Rory McIlroy revealed that he may not be joining the European Tour in 2019 due to him focusing more on his career and life in America.
The four-time Major winner’s comments brought controversy, although reports then emerged that he may well be joining this year after Chief Executive Keith Pelley flew out to Belfast for ‘crisis talks’.
However, McIlroy then appeared to backtrack at the start of this year, calling the European Tour a “stepping stone”.
By not taking up his European Tour card for 2019 (ie not playing 12 events – eight of which can be Majors and WGCs), McIlroy would forfeit the opportunity to become a Ryder Cup captain or vice captain in the future, according to a rule brought in in 2017.
The 29-year-old will likely play in two regular European Tour events this season – the Scottish Open and European Masters – and is rumoured to be skipping the Irish Open which his foundation no longer hosts.
He also skipped the Desert Swing in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Saudi Arabia after beginning his season in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in years gone by.
His chances of joining this year didn’t look great until a European Tour announcement today that may well tempt him back.
The announcement was that changes have been made to the three Finals Series events at the end of the season, with winner’s cheques for the final three tournaments at $2m in Turkey, $2.5m at the Nedbank and $3m at the DP World Tour Championship.
This makes the Nedbank and DP World Tour Championship the two richest tournaments in golf (in terms of 1st prize) ahead of the Players Championship, which offers a 1st prize of $2.25m.
So…will these new increased winner’s cheques encourage McIlroy to play? Quite possibly.
McIlroy insisted that his decision to not take up his European Tour card wasn’t just financial and was also down to world ranking points, and the final three events of the European Tour season will now carry huge world ranking points due to the top Europeans that will (surely) be playing.
“You can talk all you want about these bigger events in Europe, but you can go to America and play for more money and more ranking points,” Rory said earlier this year.
“If players are getting paid more and earning more world ranking points, why would you play over there?”
World Number Five Bryson DeChambeau has hinted that he may be joining the European Tour and 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed is now an Honorary Life Member so may also play the Finals Series events, and not for the first time.
It is likely that big names such as DeChambeau and Reed as well as European Tour powerhouses like Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and others will play in the Finals Series so the addition of Rory McIlroy would give the event the world ranking points that he’d be after, and the financial rewards too.
As it stands, he would only need to play in two of them (providing that he plays the Scottish Open and European Masters) so just like 2018, if he were to play the Nedbank Golf Challenge and DP World Tour Championship, he’d then have successfully fulfilled his European Tour membership for 2019.
Do you think Rory McIlroy will now take up European Tour membership? My hunch would be yes.
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