Rory McIlroy Playing More in West, Giving Up European Card
Rory McIlroy is getting really tired of being told how to run his life, at least his career. The masses always have the standard formula in mind, prepared to assist you at any time in what your most practical path may be. This week, even his closest colleagues are scratching their head. Rory appears to be on the verge of dropping his European Tour membership, and going heavy on an American schedule, in particular the four majors. A European player has to play four events on his own continent, and must play in his home Open. I assume that would be the Irish Open, but no one is sure whether to expect him there this year. To this point, Rory has only committed to two events. There are other drawbacks. One of the biggest is not being qualified to play on the Ryder Cup. At even more risk down the road is being disallowed to take on the captaincy of the Ryder Cup team. McIlroy’s old captain, Paul McGinley, is having a little trouble making sense of it all. He calls Rory’s plan “extraordinary,” although I’ll bet that’s the cleaned up version of his sentiments. I can just hear him thinking, “You’re a European, for Heaven’s sake. Act like one! Won’t you miss battering those cocky Americans? What about our majors?” And so forth…
It’s not a done deal. Rory could add two more events, including an major at almost any time, but he wasn’t going to mess with the schedule much until the end of the PGA season in August. Maybe the decision to drop his European card is just a temporary thing, for a year or two. After all, there is no Ryder Cup for two more years. He could get it back by then…probably. As I hear myself say those things, I start to scratch my head as well. I can understand coping with the vast schedule of the two tours, and pacing one’s strength through the year, Even 50 or 60 years ago, the travel schedule was exhaustive. Now, it’s unreal. But, why not take the weight out of the American portion of the schedule, and stay on your own continent more of the time?
The answer comes clear, the more one reads about the decision Rory has made for 2019. He is one of the world’s greatest golfers, but his recent stats don’t properly reflect it. The biggest currency in golf victories is tallied in the category of majors, majors, majors. In the wake of all the great European players who came over to win the Masters, Rory has his perfect blueprint – trod where Seve, Jose, Woosie, Player and many more have trod. That’s how one gets to be hailed as one of the world’s greats, in perpetuity. McIlroy is good enough to pull that off, but he needs to make a change in priorities. Putting more of his eggs in the Masters, U.S. Open, the Open, and the PGA makes a certain kind of sense, even though he will have to act a little un-European for a while to do it. Drop a little of the jet lag, put a little more time in on the range, add a little quiet to the off-course life, and for Heaven’s sake don’t fall in love until the azaleas have bloomed and gone.
I still don’t see Rory McIlroy giving up the European Tour. I suspect he’ll find a way to fit those two extra events in there, even though he hasn’t let us know yet. Rory has observed in the past that he doesn’t want to lead the driven, crazed life of those who believe they were put on earth to win everything and achieve immortality. However, I am certain that he also has an accurate view of his own abilities, and it might chafe to see them go unrealized. That might take the form of going for all the marbles – which means majors, majors, majors.