European Tour: Say Farewell to Your Next Big Thing
By Stephanie Wei under General

It’s been a nightmarish week or so for the European Tour. First, Thomas Bjorn rescinded his position as the Chairman of Europe’s Tournament Player’s Committee — only a little week after his public spat with Padraig Harrington over making membership rules for the European Tour more stringent. And now they’ve lost their most promising star, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, to the PGA Tour:

After two weeks examining the US Tour’s 2010 schedule, the 20-year-old rising star of world golf has decided he can join the elite group of players like Padraig Harrington chasing the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic…Following a series of talks with his manager Chubby Chandler, McIlroy has worked out he only needs to add four more events to those he played in America this year to qualify for the Fedex Cup. And he believes cutting down his European schedule will not affect his chances of making his much anticipated Ryder Cup debut for Colin Montgomerie’s team next September.

The announcement will not be officially made until November 18th, right before the Dubai World Championships — he was leading the “Race for Dubai” up until Lee Westwood overtook him with his win at the Portugal Masters on Sunday.

As Lawrence Donegan noted, the powers-that-be at the PGA Tour adore Mcilroy: “He is smart, he is presentable, he is, in their words, ‘non controversial.’” Translation: He’s likable (a tad boring) and won’t be accused of binge-drinking late night on the eve of a tournament. And he’s fun to watch — I tracked him for several holes at the US Open this past June.

While he’ll likely continue playing in Europe, he won’t be there much. Mourn for the loss of this wunderkind, European Tour. Tim Finchem is beaming (or smirking) somewhere in Asia right now.

[Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images Europe]