Add Rory McIlroy to the count of top-ten players who is turning down membership on the US PGA Tour next season. McIlroy, a rookie on the PGA Tour this year, is joining world’s No. 1 Lee Westwood and ’10 PGA champion and world’s No. 3 Martin Kaymer in calling the European Tour their primary golfing home. Why the change of heart for McIlroy? Like Westwood, he was put off by the chase for the exorbitant amount of money and the cramped scheduling in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs.
The kid has his priorities straight. Via The Telegraph:
I found myself in America last year, especially in the FedEx Cup play-off series, just not wanting to be there. I started switching on the Golf Channel and watching the Omega European Masters in Switzerland and thinking to myself I would rather be there. America can be a lonely place.After a tough summer of golf I need a break after the US PGA. I had one week this year, and then I found myself back in the States to play three in a row.
There is no flexibility in your schedule as the FedEx Series forces you into making those events. You shouldn’t just be going over to play in the FedEx Cup thinking about how much money you can make.
I’m becoming a bigger Rory fan by the word! According to reports, McIlroy made his decision after consulting with Westwood, who has “refused to chase the dollar,” a phrase commonly used by the UK media. Last month Westwood explained his reasoning:
“Chubby [Westwood’s manager Andrew Chandler] said, ‘Why would you take membership in the States when you have been the most successful player in the world this year until the injury and you have still got a great chance to go to world No. 1?
“‘You have come second in two major championships, you must be doing something right, why not stick to the same schedule?’
“I don’t want to get into the situation where I have to play events in America just to make 15. The FedEx Cup sits right in the middle of the kids’ summer holidays and I like going on holiday with them for a couple of weeks. I don’t want to be dictated to by having to play, having to go to America to play FedEx Cup when it doesn’t really mean that much to me.”
Finally, golfers with some sensibility to realize that the amount of money they’re playing for is absolutely ludicrous and to openly declare that it’s just about money. As one colleague said to me last year, “[The FedEx Cup] just felt a little dirty.”
“The two best players in the world at the moment are not going to join the US Tour next year,” said McIlroy, who is the world No 9. “It’s a great time for European golf.”
The decision is more of a symbolic gesture than anything. McIlroy, Westwood and Kaymer will still play 10-12 events in the US — they just have more control over their schedules (and won’t be obligated to play FedEx Cup events).
I can’t help but ask — is this the start of a change in golf’s power structure? Who knows, but somewhere European Tour boss George O’Grady is beaming.