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The European Tour has announced huge increases to the winner's cheques at the final three events of the season, will they be enough to tempt McIlroy to play?
Will Rory McIlroy Join The European Tour This Season?
At the DP World Tour Championship last year, Rory McIlroy revealed that he may not be joining the European Tour in 2019 due to him focusing more on his career and life in America.
The four-time Major winner's comments brought controversy, although reports then emerged that he may well be joining this year after Chief Executive Keith Pelley flew out to Belfast for 'crisis talks'.
However, McIlroy then appeared to backtrack at the start of this year, calling the European Tour a "stepping stone".
By not taking up his European Tour card for 2019 (ie not playing 12 events - eight of which can be Majors and WGCs), McIlroy would forfeit the opportunity to become a Ryder Cup captain or vice captain in the future, according to a rule brought in in 2017.
The 29-year-old will likely play in two regular European Tour events this season - the Scottish Open and European Masters - and is rumoured to be skipping the Irish Open which his foundation no longer hosts.
He also skipped the Desert Swing in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Saudi Arabia after beginning his season in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in years gone by.
His chances of joining this year didn't look great until a European Tour announcement today that may well tempt him back.
The announcement was that changes have been made to the three Finals Series events at the end of the season, with winner's cheques for the final three tournaments at $2m in Turkey, $2.5m at the Nedbank and $3m at the DP World Tour Championship.
This makes the Nedbank and DP World Tour Championship the two richest tournaments in golf (in terms of 1st prize) ahead of the Players Championship, which offers a 1st prize of $2.25m.
So...will these new increased winner's cheques encourage McIlroy to play? Quite possibly.
McIlroy insisted that his decision to not take up his European Tour card wasn't just financial and was also down to world ranking points, and the final three events of the European Tour season will now carry huge world ranking points due to the top Europeans that will (surely) be playing.
"You can talk all you want about these bigger events in Europe, but you can go to America and play for more money and more ranking points," Rory said earlier this year.
"If players are getting paid more and earning more world ranking points, why would you play over there?”
World Number Five Bryson DeChambeau has hinted that he may be joining the European Tour and 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed is now an Honorary Life Member so may also play the Finals Series events, and not for the first time.
It is likely that big names such as DeChambeau and Reed as well as European Tour powerhouses like Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari, Tommy Fleetwood, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and others will play in the Finals Series so the addition of Rory McIlroy would give the event the world ranking points that he'd be after, and the financial rewards too.
As it stands, he would only need to play in two of them (providing that he plays the Scottish Open and European Masters) so just like 2018, if he were to play the Nedbank Golf Challenge and DP World Tour Championship, he'd then have successfully fulfilled his European Tour membership for 2019.
Do you think Rory McIlroy will now take up European Tour membership? My hunch would be yes.
Let us know your thoughts on our social media channels
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Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Titleist TSR4
3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max
Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max
Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW
Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
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