Smith, Otaegui lead in World Tour, Molinari falters

Tyler Owen
November 17, 2018

Rory McIlroy is unsure of maintaining his European Tour membership for 2019 as he now has just two events on his schedule.

The 29-year-old McIlroy hit the spotlight in 2007 by securing his European Tour card in just his second event by finishing third in the 2007 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Molinari became the first Italian to win a major when he claimed The Open at Carnoustie, which followed victory in the PGA Championship at Wentworth and a maiden PGA Tour title in the Quicken Loans National.

"I think it is the result of the changes", he explained ahead of the Tour's season-ending DP World Tour Championship. I don't have to commit to anything until May, so I will not have played a European Tour event. He will play in the Irish Open or Scottish Open in July - probably the latter, given his stated wish to play the week before the majors and it is staged immediately before the Open - and the European Masters in September.

"The way the schedule has worked for next year, it is going to be different for a lot of guys", McIlroy said.

"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 to have that break and impose an off-season on myself and then go at it hard from March all the way through to basically the end of the season", McIlroy said.

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Molinari will be crowned European number one in what has been a dream season if he finishes in a tie for fifth or above in the eighth and final Rolex Series event of the year this weekend.

World No. 7 McIlroy has to play four European Tour tournaments, apart from the majors and World Golf Championship events, in order to retain Tour membership. The European Tour will change literally any rule it needs to shoehorn McIlroy into captaincy.

The former world No 1 is ranked seventh now and has only won once since claiming the 2016 Tour Championship.

"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", he said.

"If it were to be that I don't fulfill my membership next year, it's not a Ryder Cup year so it's not the end of the world". 'I'm always going to want to play in the Ryder Cup, so if I give up my membership, I'll rejoin in 2020 and try to make the team that way.' What's the betting there's a Rory rethink once the new regulation is pointed out, presumably brought in precisely to deter any Euro star from such thoughts? The DP World Tour Championship has become one of the biggest events on Dubai's sporting calendar, and has also cemented Dubai's place as one of the world's most exciting golf destinations.

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