Sport Golf

Sunday 22 April 2018

I didn't want to be there, admits Holywood star

Bernie McGuire in Singapore

In what is a huge boost for the European Tour, Rory McIlroy has quit being a full-time member of the US Tour.

The news will come as a shock in America, particularly as McIlroy had enjoyed such a fine start to his Stateside career this year.

The 21-year-old became one of the Tour's poster boys following his final-round 62 at the Quail Hollow Championship in May, which won him his first US title.

Explaining his decision, McIlroy said: "I found myself in America last year, especially during the FedEx Cup play-off series, just not wanting to be there. I switched on the Golf Channel and watched the European Masters in Switzerland and thought to myself, 'I would rather be there'.

"Sometimes you feel as though you have to be in America just to play the mandatory 15, and at the start of this year, that was something I really wanted to do. I did that but I also realised it wasn't for me, but it doesn't mean to say that I don't want to play full time in the States again."

McIlroy sought a special meeting last Sunday in Shanghai to advise US Tour commissioner Tim Finchem that he would not be renewing his membership.

News of the Holywood golfer's decision comes soon after Germany's Martin Kaymer indicated, as reigning US PGA champion, he would not be taking up US Tour membership.

World No 1 Lee Westwood, reiterated last week that he would not be enticed to rejoining.

It was 12 months ago in Hong Kong when McIlroy expressed his joy in advising he was to join the US Tour from January 1.

"The two best players in the world at the moment are not going to join the US Tour next year," said the world No 9 yesterday. "It's a great time for European golf."

McIlroy made his choice after taking advice from Westwood. Just like the Englishman, McIlroy has been put off by the end-of-season play-offs, which entail the PGA Tour pros playing up to four events in five weeks.

The series does boast a collective purse of almost $70m (€50m), but that is evidently not enough to entice McIlroy.

"The FedEx Cup is only about money and you shouldn't just be going over to play thinking about how much you can make," said McIlroy. "I needed a break after the USPGA (in August), but had only one week. There is no flexibility in your schedule as the FedEx forces you to appear at those events. I didn't like that."

Apart from the Majors and World Golf Championship events, McIlroy will play only a handful of US events. He will be adding a couple more European stops to his calendar, although he is planning to cut his schedule from 30 events to 22 or 23.

"If you're not playing well in the States it can be a lonely place," he said. "But if you're not playing well on the European Tour you still have plenty of mates to hang out with.

"Holly (his girlfriend) also has another two years at university and we have two dogs, a nice house and I love my life back in Ireland. I don't ever want to give that up."

McIlroy was in Singapore yesterday for a corporate outing but then headed home to Ireland for a week's break rather than contest Thursday's co-sanctioned Barclays Singapore Open.

Irish Independent

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