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There are many rumblings about breakaway golf tours right now but luckily for the traditional tours, Rory McIlroy is on side and remaining loyal to his roots. The four-time Major winner tees it up in a strong Abu Dhabi field to start his 2022, as well as Dubai next week, and says he believes the European Tour, now known as the DP World Tour, has "never been healthier" after the strategic alliance with the PGA Tour that has seen golf's two biggest tours working together like never before.
McIlroy was speaking ahead of the event where he also revealed his intentions to emulate Tiger Woods' approach in the hopes of his first ever six-win season. "Honestly, I don't think it's ever been in a healthier position. I think the alliance with the PGA Tour is massive," McIlroy said of the DP World Tour.
"I think the young players that are coming through, if you're thinking of the Tour, you think of the fact that the first American ever won The Race to Dubai year in Collin Morikawa and you have these young players coming through from either side of the pond that want to play over here and travel.
"Look, I think the one disappointment for every European golf fan was The Ryder Cup last year. But I think it's never been healthier. The tournaments are getting bigger. Sponsorship dollars are coming in to support events. Players are wanting to come back and play. I think it's in a really good spot."
McIlroy also played down the current issue of who the next Ryder Cup captain will be for Rome 2023 after reports emerged that Henrik Stenson has been made to choose between the role or heading to the rumoured new Saudi-backed golf league. The decision on who the next captain will be should have been announced this week but has been delayed.
"I wouldn't want to name anyone because I wouldn't want influence it one way or another," he said. "There are a number of candidates and they would all do a wonderful job. It's not just about the one individual. There's a lot that goes into it. It's the vice captains, I want to say the whole European Tour, but Ryder Cup Europe team. That's a lot that goes into it, and look, good captains lose sometimes, and that's just the way it is. Padraig was a great captain last time, and I didn't play my part, and I'm sure the other players feel the same way.
"I don't think it matters [the delay]. It's certainly not on the players radar at all. I don't think it matters, really. It's not as if we're going up and down the range talking to each other thinking about who the captain is going to be. We are all focused on our own job of trying to play the best golf we can. I think it's more of a bigger deal to you guys than it is to us."
The six-time Ryder Cupper also spoke of his desire to one day captain Team Europe, albeit not for another two decades.
"I hope it's a long time, a long way away, but ultimately, yeah, I'd love to have a shot at it. But yeah, I mean, we're hopefully talking two decades or more."
Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Honma TR20
3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max
Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max
Irons: Honma TR20B
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x