Why Rory McIlroy will play more in the U.S. in 2019

Stan Badz/PGA TOUR

Why Rory McIlroy will play more in the U.S. in 2019

PGA Tour

Why Rory McIlroy will play more in the U.S. in 2019

KAPALUA, Hawaii – Rory McIlroy’s 2019 schedule has been a controversial topic ever since the four-time major champion indicated he might not retain European Tour membership.

Now it seems McIlroy will still play four Euro Tour events required to keep membership, but he’s a permanent U.S. resident as of last year and will be placing more of an emphasis on staying stateside.

“I made the decision that this is where my life is going to be, this is where I’m going to live,” McIlroy said. “Having to hop back and forth from the states to Europe and back again, there’s not a lot of that going on which is a good thing. My focus has always been the biggest events in the world since I got into that top-50, but even more so now because of wanting to travel less and wanting to spend more time at home when I can be at home.”

McIlroy is in Hawaii this week for the Sentry Tournament of Champions, the first time he’s ever committed to the event. Usually he would play a few times in the Middle East, but his schedule was always light to start the year.

That’s another change he’s making in 2019 after feeling like he was always playing catch-up once his PGA Tour schedule ramped up.

“Every time I show up to the start of the year on the PGA Tour, other guys have played nearly 10 events and I’m sort of playing my first or my second one. So I wanted to try and start a little bit early, get a few more starts under my belt before the big bulk of the season kicks in.”

He wasn’t eligible for last year’s Tournament of Champions at Kapalua’s Plantation Course following a winless and injury-riddled 2017. He bounced back early last year with a dominant putting performance to take home the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The rest of the year included seven top-10s and a few close calls, including runner-ups at the Dubai Desert Classic, BMW PGA Championship and British Open.

McIlroy knows he needs to do better on the greens in order to get back to an elite level and finished 97th in strokes gained putting last season.

“Really my 15-20 feet range is what I need to work on if you look at the stats from last year,” McIlroy said. “It was really my speed. My speed wasn’t very good from that range. I was leaving myself sort of three and four-footers coming back a lot, which is maybe partly a mental thing but also a physical sort of stroke thing and not hitting it out of the center of the putter all the time.”

Otherwise McIlroy’s game feels good, and he put in a lot of video work over the offseason. But he knows the real test starts this week in his Tournament of Champions debut.

“The way I’ve played out there the last few days has been good, but I guess you never really know until you tee it up,” McIlroy said.

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