Rory McIlroy calls new Rolex Series 'a real boost' for European Tour

Rory McIlroy calls new Rolex Series 'a real boost' for European Tour

Euro Tour

Rory McIlroy calls new Rolex Series 'a real boost' for European Tour

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Rory McIlroy has given the European Tour’s new Rolex Series a ringing endorsement. His Irish Open tournament is set to benefit from a massive cash investment as part of the new series.

European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley unveiled the 2017 Rolex Series ahead of publication of next year’s European Tour schedule, which is to be announced on Sunday. The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation will be elevated from a $4.3 million tournament this year to $7 million in 2017.

The Irish Open is one of seven events to receive a bump in purse, along with the BMW PGA Championship, Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, Italian Open, Turkish Airlines Open, Nedbank Golf Challenge and DP World Tour Championship. More tournaments are expected to be added in the coming months. All Rolex Series events will be worth a minimum of $7 million.

“I’m excited obviously that the Irish Open is part of it,” McIlroy said. “It’s a massive thing for the European Tour. It’s a great thing for the European Tour membership. Just to have the opportunity to bring more of the best players together more often, I think is going to be a real boost for the European Tour.”

The new series replaces the current Final Series, which began in 2013. Unlike its forerunner, the new series is a season-long initiative, which Pelley expects to grow.

“It’s starting right now in 2017 with seven tournaments, but I’m going to caveat that by saying a minimum of seven tournaments,” Pelley said. “We expect to have eight or nine in 2017. We’re currently under discussions with some other partners as we speak. So our goal is eight or nine in 2017 with a goal of 10 by 2018.”

Expect the French Open to be added to the list soon, probably before the end of the year.

Pelley admitted the Tour and Rolex are bankrolling several events to bring them up to the $7 million mark. He wouldn’t specify but the Irish, Scottish and BMW PGA are getting extra cash. They all offered purses under $7 million this year, while the Italian Golf Federation had already budgeted a prize increase for the Italian Open as part of its commitment to stage the 2022 Ryder Cup.

Pelley said part of the reason for the new series was to stem the talent drain to the PGA Tour.

“We need a product that can grow and grow over time, that provides a strong financial offering for our young players so they don’t have to go to the United States,” Pelley said.

McIlroy feels the initiative may achieve that goal.

“I think one of the big consensuses is that it’s getting more and more difficult to play two tours,” McIlroy said. “You’ve seen players that have tried it before and it doesn’t quite work.”

The Irish Open is moving to a new date next year as part of the scheme. It will now be held between the French and the Scottish Opens with the British Open capping that run.

“It gives guys an incentive to maybe play a little bit more on this side of the pond, “McIlroy said. “Hopefully that’s the case to get some great fields leading up to the Open Championship.”

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