Rory McIlroy confirmed he is not going to play in next year’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic and may not be a member of the European Tour next season as a result of scheduling changes.
The Northern Irishman is synonymous with the tournament at Emirates Golf Club given that the Majlis Course is where he made his first cut on the European Tour at the age of 17 in 2007 and won his first tournament two years later.
Sponsored by Dubai-based Jumeirah Group in those early days he went on to win the UAE’s flagship event again in 2015, and boasts a record of eight top 10 finishes in a total of 11 appearances there since 2006, only skipping it twice in 2013 and 2017.
“The way the schedule has worked for next year, it’s going to be different for a lot of guys,” he said on the sidelines of this week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship on Tuesday.
“Everything is going to be so condensed between March and August, and that is why I am taking a big off season to get myself ready and then go at it hard from March all the way through to the end of the season.
“After this tournament [the DP World Tour Championship], I’m going to play one tournament in 13 weeks.
“I’m going to Hawaii to play that first event of the year, the Tournament of Champions, and that’s really it,” he added, ruling himself out of the Desert Classic, which will be held on January 24-27.
He later clarified he’d play in the European Masters in September because he’s obligated to play in one of the Omega sponsored events but wouldn’t play the Desert Classic.
“I’m starting my year off in the States and that will be the big focus of mine up until the end of August and then we will assess from there.”
He needs to play four European Tour events outside the Majors and WGC events to keep his card, but currently only has two on his schedule, either the Irish or Scottish Open in July and the European Masters in September.
“I guess my thing is that I want to play against the strongest fields week-in and week-out and for the most part of the season that is in America.
“If I want to continue to contend in the Majors and to continue my journey back towards the top of the game, then that’s what I want to do.
“Right now that is all sort of up in the air, but if it were to be that I don’t fulfil my membership next year, it’s not a Ryder Cup year so it’s not the end of the world.
“I am always going to want to play the Ryder Cup, so if that does happen so be it and I will try and make the Ryder Cup team the year after.”
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