Tuesday 22 January 2019

Euro Tour chief jets in on mission to keep McIlroy in fold

Rory McIlroy. Photo: Getty
Rory McIlroy. Photo: Getty
Sara Byrne and Robin Dawson – the women’s and men’s Amateur Players of the Year. Photo: ©INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Brian Keogh

It took an act of God to stop Justin Rose's charge in the BNI Indonesian Masters but persuasive words from on high may be enough to keep Rory McIlroy in the European Tour fold next year.

Rose was five-under after 14 holes in the opening round of his title defence at Royale Jakarta when play was suspended for the day due to lightning.

The Englishman, who needs only a top-12 finish to return to world No 1, was tied third with Henrik Stenson (67), just four shots behind clubhouse leaders John Catlin and Sungho Lee, who shot six-under 66s as Muskerry's Niall Turner posted a 70 to share 46th.

Rose recently voiced his understanding for McIlroy, who said last month he may not play the required four events outside the Majors and World Golf Championships to keep his European Tour card next year. However, Tour CEO Keith Pelley appears to be working hard to persuade his biggest draw to play the four-event minimum.

According to reports, Pelley recently flew to Northern Ireland to meet the Holywood star, who wants to win Majors again, stressing: "Everyone has to look out for themselves and next year I'm looking out for me."

In the European Tour's final stop of the year, South Africa's Oliver Bekker shot a six-under 66 to lead the Alfred Dunhill Championship by a shot from Australia's Dimitrios Papadatos. But it was a tough day for the Irish at Leopard Creek with Neil O'Briain carding a 76 and Gavin Moynihan a six-over 78.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Meadow made history when she became the first woman to win the Professional Player of the Year Award from the Irish Golf Writers' Association.

The Jordanstown native (26) suffered a stress fracture in her spine in 2017 and was unable to avail of a medical exemption on the LPGA Tour. After undergoing surgery and rehabilitation, she bounced back to earn her full LPGA Tour card for 2019 via the Symetra Tour, winning the IOA Championship in April.

"I am so honoured and so humbled to have won the Professional Golfer of the Year," said Meadow, whose award was accepted on her behalf by ILGU CEO Sinéad Heraty at the Allianz-sponsored awards dinner at Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links last night.

Tramore's Robin Dawson (22), who won his Challenge Tour card last month, received the 2018 Men's Amateur Player of the Year award while Irish Women's Close champion Sara Byrne (17) from Douglas was named Women's Amateur of the Year.

The Distinguished Services to Golf award was presented to Miriam Hand, who is the driving force behind the "Play in Pink" charitable initiative which has raised more than €600,000 for Breast Cancer Research since 2011.

Alfred Dunhill Championship

Live, Sky Sports, 10.30am

Indonesian Masters

Live, Sky Sports, 7.0am

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