McIlroy plays down 'loyalty' towards European Tour
Rory McIlroy insists he will concentrate on the PGA Tour in 2019 and feels no sense of undivided loyalty to his home circuit.
While he has yet to confirm speculation he has agreed to play the required four events outside the Majors and World Golf Championships to keep his European Tour membership, he insisted ahead of his debut in the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii tomorrow that concentrating on the US circuit gives him the best chance of sustained success.
"I'm still going to play in Europe and [the fans] are still going to see me play - maybe not as regularly as it used to be - but that's just a product of where the global schedule is right now and where my life is right now," McIlroy told Golf.com. "I've travelled the world for 12 years playing professional golf. I'm still going to be a world player, but I don't want that hopping back and forth over the Atlantic as much as I used to do."
While there have been reports that he will play the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and either the Irish Open or the BMW PGA as well as the Scottish Open and the Omega European Masters following a plea by European Tour CEO Keith Pelley, he does not feel obliged to remain loyal to his home tour.
"A lot of guys have this sort of loyalty to the European Tour, which is great," added McIlroy, who played just five pure European Tour events in 2015, '16 and '17 and only six last year. "But it's not as if we all got handed starts; you've got to qualify to get on."
Set to turn 30 in May, he added: "My life's here; I live in the States [and] my wife is American. Everything is moving this way in the world; it just makes sense... I'm finally healthy, I'm feeling good, I've got the schedule I want and I'm settled in my life."
McIlroy (29) could rise from eighth to fifth in the world if he wins the season-opener at the Plantation Course in Kapalua. He he partners Xander Schauffele in the first round (10pm Irish time).