Thursday 22 August 2019

Rory McIlroy encouraged by European Tour plans

Rory McIlroy has backed chief executive Keith Pelley's
Rory McIlroy has backed chief executive Keith Pelley's "vision" for the European Tour

Former world number one Rory McIlroy has given his enthusiastic backing to chief executive Keith Pelley's vision for the future of the European Tour

Pelley vowed on Tuesday to make the European Tour a "viable alternative" to the more lucrative PGA Tour within three to five years, promising to experiment with formats, increase prize funds and adopt a "players-first" philosophy.

That philosophy has resulted in the number of tournaments required to maintain membership being reduced from 13 to five, excluding majors and WGC events, to make it easier for US-based players outside the world's top 50.

And Pelley wants to see the so-called "flagship" event of the Tour, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, live up to its billing by offering more prize money than its current "unacceptable" 5million euros.

"He makes a great point," McIlroy said after his opening round of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, which Pelley hailed as the Tour's true flagship event.

"The Colonial in America has a prize fund of a million more (than Wentworth). He said to me if that's our flagship event, that's a bit embarrassing for the European Tour.

"T here's a lot of things to be done, but he's made a great start and he's saying all the right things. I had breakfast with him for about 40 minutes (on Tuesday) and then Justin (Rose) and Henrik (Stenson) and I met him for about an hour and a half that afternoon as well, just going through a few different things.

"He's trying, not really for us guys, but the guys coming through like Matt Fitzpatrick, to provide them a viable alternative instead of going to America because they feel like they have to.

"Now they can stay at home and have 10 USD 7million events to play in with plenty of world ranking points, and then they can go over and play the majors and WGCs and three or four invites on the PGA Tour if they don't feel like they get enough good golf on the European Tour.

" I love where he's thinking. I love everything that he's saying. It's just a matter of now trying to implement those changes, which is obviously easier said than done."

PA Media

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