October 26, 2009

McIlory Not Joining the PGA Tour in 2009

From Street and Smith's Sports Business Daily comes news that Rory McIlroy has apparently decided not to set his anchor on the American Tour next season:
"Rory McIlroy, the 20-year-old dubbed by the golf world as the next big international player, will not join the PGA Tour next season, refuting recent speculation that he would play the majority of his schedule in the U.S. in '10. “Rory has decided not to join the PGA Tour in 2010,” his agent, ISM’s Chubby Chandler, said in an e-mail. He did not provide any further explanation."
As Lawrence Donegan so bluntly puts it, the future of the European Tour's survival may hinge on getting and keeping rising stars like McIlroy - who many say is the 'next big international star.' Whether that turns into prophesy or curse is anyone's guess at this point, but all signs point to the prediction coming to pass. McIlroy is a solid golfer with an excellent disposition and a well-grounded life away from the course. Add in some experience to the mix, and it's very easy to see him as one of the players vying for dominance in the inevitable Post-Tiger era.

On the other hand, perhaps it is wrong to simply assume that McIlroy will settle on the Euro Tour as his home. While he may play there and even satisfy the minimum number of tournaments the ET sets as their standard, McIlroy can come to America and cherry-pick events to play in: the three American-based majors of course, add in the World Golf Championships and you have a busy year, with or without 11 or 12 Euro Tour Events, and seven other PGA Tour events where he can get a sponsor's exemption. That would, of course, be any tournament on the Tour's schedule. In other words, don't expect to see McIlroy showing up at the Frys.com next season. More than likely, he'll want to play in the bigger events like The Player's, perhaps the Quail Hollow Championship and others that draw the top fields.

That opens the question up for top young players such as Ryo Ishikawa, Danny Lee, and Rickie Fowler: with fast private jets at their fingertips and no lack of comfort at each point in their journey, are golf tours anachronistic and something that they do not have to commit to fully?


  1. That's a good question, and a good point. When rumors of Rory's defection to the PGA Tour were being floated about some bloggers were all to quick to write about the imminant demise of the European Tour. A reaction that, consideringthe points you bring up, was probably somewhat premature.

  2. Charles, perhaps you can further comment on this thought (and you may know the facts and figures better than I), but I don't see why McIlroy even needs to join the PGA Tour to make waves over here.

    Don't the 4 Majors count on both tours? How about the World Golf Championships? I recall hearing that some of the "young guns" on the PGA Tour were trying to keep a membership on both tours because they only needed to play about 4 new tournaments to fulfill the requirements of the European Tour.

    If this is so, it seems to me that ET membership gets Rory in all the big tournaments. Add the 7 sponsor exemptions he's eligible for, which will probably include Jack and Arnie's tournaments (among other invitationals), and he may be playing pretty much every tournament Tiger plays. So why not keep his home base in Ireland, where he can keep a sense of normalcy in his life?

    Sounds like a smart kid to me.


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