Although Rory McIlroy welcomed news of a cash injection courtesy of the newly named DP World Tour coming into effect from 2022, the world number 8 admits it won’t impact his scheduling plans.
The European Tour heralded a new dawn last week for players on this side of the Atlantic and beyond with minimum prize pots set to double when Europe moves to an all-encompassing world tour next year.
However, if it was hoped that such news would entice the game’s best players further afield, then McIlroy has delivered a blow ahead of Thursday’s starting DP World Tour Championship, insisting he’ll be going about his schedule as he has done for the past number of years.
“I live in America. That’s where I’m going to play the majority of my golf. I don’t think it will change really,” McIlroy said.
“I just think it’s a great thing for this Tour that the members that play on this Tour full time have a place to play long into the future.
“But for me personally, I think I’m just going to play the same schedule that I’ve basically played for the last sort of five years. It may encourage me to add an event here or there, for the most part I’ll probably keep doing what I’ve done the last few years.”
Tour bosses will no doubt cling to a never say never sentiment, not least because it was only a few weeks ago that McIlroy had no intention of competing in this week’s curtain closer either. Deflated after his Ryder Cup showing at Whistling Straits, McIlroy initially felt a long break from the game could do him good but opted to play his way into form instead; an approach that reaped reward with victory last month at the CJ Cup.
“I wasn’t always planning to be here and play,” he revealed. “After the Ryder Cup, I didn’t really know what I was going to do. But I decided to play a bit more and try to push through some of the things I was working on in my game.
“I came through the other side of that. So it’s important to be here. I missed it last year because of Covid. I just didn’t want to deal with the travel and the bubble and that sort of stuff.
“But this year is a little different and a little more normal, I guess. So it’s good to be here. It’s a place I’ve had success on. It’s a course that suits my game really well. I’ll have a good chance this week. I don’t feel like I need to do anything too special to give myself a chance on Sunday.”
One man not teeing up to the dismay of tournament organisers and tour chief Keith Pelley is world number one Jon Rahm, who would’ve had every chance of winning Europe’s money-list from his position of third in the standings. However, McIlroy feels Rahm owes nothing to nobody after a hectic year, empathising with the Spaniard who became a dad for the first time back in April.
“I fully understand,” McIlroy said of Rahm’s call despite the Tour’s best efforts to persuade him otherwise.
“I don’t think anyone can criticise him for not being here. He’s given his all, all year. He’s had his trials and tribulations as well. He was an absolute star at the Ryder Cup for us.
“He couldn’t have given more, and he’s given a lot to the European Tour already. He goes to Spain and plays those events there in his home country. I don’t think anyone can criticise him for not being here this week.”
Whatever way McIlroy paints it, Rahm’s decision is still a major blow to the tour off the back of last week’s “triumphant” rebranding. There was a time when winning Europe’s money-list was of utmost importance to players and although DP World’s ongoing investment is great news for the Tour itself, Rahm highlighting the Race to Dubai’s position in his pecking order certainly isn’t.