McIlroy to give up European Tour membership in 2019

Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari

Dunne must finish second to make the top 30 in the final Race to Dubai standings who qualify for The Open while Lowry, who tied for second on the Earch Course previous year, must be solo fourth at worst if he's to tick Royal Portrush off his wish list for Christmas.

"I guess my thing is that I want to play against the strongest fields week in and week out, and for the most part of the season that is in America", he said. Fleetwood will have to win the DP World Tour Championship and Molinari finish no lower than a tie for fifth.

As an Official Airline of The 2018 DP World Tour Championship, Emirates has a strong branding presence at the tournament, as well as VIP hospitality, ticketing rights, and branding at the Trophy presentation, amongst other benefits.

It's unclear whether McIlroy is aware of the rule that was introduced at the start of 2018, which dictated: "The committee also introduced a new regulation stating that players can not be a European Ryder Cup Captain or a Vice-Captain if they decline membership of the European Tour or fail to fulfil their minimum event obligation in any season, from 2018 onwards'".

"It's very disappointing and it is obviously a blow for the European Tour".

Four-time major victor McIlroy is a three-time champion of the Tour's Race to Dubai and has been a part of every European Ryder Cup team since 2010. By losing European Tour status, McIlroy wouldn't qualify for the Ryder Cup, but since 2019 is a gap year between events, he doesn't have to worry about that.

Shane Lowry, who is 43rd in the Race to Dubai, and 54th-ranked Paul Dunne are not complaining about the absentees as they chase the cash as well as valuable world ranking points.


"The way the schedule has worked for next year, it is going to be different for a lot of guys. It's just a matter of doing it when I need to do it most".

"Hopefully I'll be able to do the job this week and then sit down next week and start reflecting on the season and digest everything that's happened before, starting to prepare for next year".

29-year old McIlroy has already confirmed that he will play at the Irish Open at Lahinch in July, and he is already locked in for the European Masters in Switzerland in September 2019, however it looks increasingly likely that Lahinch will be his first European Tour appearance of the season. As James Corrigan of the Telegraph pointed out, though, his status as a future Ryder Cup captain could be in jeopardy.

"I don't think Rory is anxious about what is going to happen in 20 years, which is what he would be looking at if he was going to become Ryder Cup captain or vice-captain", McGinley added.

The more interesting part for me is that with McIlroy now skipping the Middle East swing and focusing exclusively on the PGA Tour from January-August, you sort of have the makings of an unofficial world tour.

After this week's event in Dubai, McIlroy will play only once - at Kapalua - in the next 13 weeks. Not the sort of news European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley wanted in the final event of the 2018 season.

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