Rory McIlroy May Forfeit European Tour Membership In 2019

Rory Mc Ilroy playing at the Nedbank Challenge

Rory Mc Ilroy playing at the Nedbank Challenge

After this week's season-ending Dubai event on the European Tour, McIlroy said he will play just once over the next three months - the PGA Tour's Sentry Tournament of Champions in January - to better prepare for the coming season.

Players can not be a captain or vice-captain if they decline membership of the Tour or fail to fulfil the minimum event obligation in any season.

The former world No 1 has won the Arnold Palmer Invitational this year - his only title in the last two years - and he is eager to get back to the top echelon of the sport.

With an off-season of that length, no wonder there were some in Dubai who looked at the idea that he couldn't find a measly four events to retain his membership as something of an abject betrayal. But McIlroy is skipping them and is likely not to return to competitive golf until either the Pebble Beach Pro-Am or Genesis Open. '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, ' he added.

The European Tour requires just four events outside of the majors and World Golf Championship events to meet minimum playing requirements; he is already scheduled for the European Masters in Switzerland and has played the Scottish Open in the past.

Regardless of how the PGA Tour schedule plays out, it would be a big blow to the European Tour to lose McIlroy as a member.

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The world No 8 has registered wins on both sides of the Atlantic in 2018 and also defeated Tiger Woods in Europe's Ryder Cup victory at Le Golf National, but still feels he didn't achieve as much as he did during the previous campaign.

"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". That has pushed the European Tour's flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, to September and McIlroy warned that he might not be the only high-profile name to make the move.

Ryder Cup team-mate Casey has also chose to skip the event, while an injury to American Julian Suri makes it three eligible players not on the entry list for the event. 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.

The Northern Irishman is searching for answers following a disappointing season and, in the year when he will turn 30, believes his career is best served by concentrating almost all his energies on playing on the PGA Tour in America.

"Right now, I've got two events on my schedule in Europe and I don't have to commit to that until next year", he said. "I think with what I set it out to be and how hard it was to live up to expectation, I'll give it a seven and a half out of 10".

McIlroy is ranked sixth in the Race to Dubai this week, which means even if he wins the tournament, he won't be able to surmount front-runners Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood and secure a fourth European number one crown.

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