The Forecaddie is pretty certain Rory McIlroy won’t quit golf’s European Tour in 2019, despite what he said during the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley has taken steps to make sure his star player keeps his status.
McIlroy’s bombshell comments sent shockwaves through European Tour headquarters. The former World No. 1 made it clear his focus next year will be on the PGA Tour to give himself the best chance of adding to his tally of four major wins.
“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,” he said.
Not the end of the world for McIlroy, but pretty close to it for the European Tour and Pelley, The Man Out Front thinks.
Pelley wasn’t about to hang around to let McIlroy make a decision detrimental to the tour. Pelley jumped on a plane to Northern Ireland and McIlroy’s home in Holywood for an emergency meeting with his star player.
European Tour officials were tight-lipped about the confab during the 2018 Hilton European Tour Golfer of the Year Award lunch in London on Monday. But from the way Pelley strutted about the room with a wide grin on his face, it seemed everything was rosy in the European Tour’s backyard.
Pelley had much to celebrate as Francesco Molinari collected the GOY award. The Italian gave the European Tour a major trophy to boast about by winning the British Open at Carnoustie. Molinari also spearheaded Europe’s Ryder Cup victory at Le Golf National. Throw in a year in which the tour had given much to charitable causes. No wonder Pelley was upbeat.
Maybe the real reason for Pelley’s triumphant mood came from turning around a player who’s currently bigger than the tour. McIlroy is to the tour now as Seve Ballesteros once was: its main drawing card.
McIlroy only needs to play four “regular” tournaments alongside the majors and WGCs to fulfil membership. He’s already committed to two. He’ll play the Omega European Masters, and either the Scottish or Irish Open in preparation for next year’s British Open at Royal Portrush. So, another two before the end of the year isn’t really a hardship.
TMOF can only ponder what concessions Pelley made to keep his star player on board.