Rory McIlroy has joined the European Tour in time to be eligible for the start of the Ryder Cup qualifying race later this year, with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open set to be the first of his appearances on the circuit in 2019.
The four-time major winner took up his membership before the 1 May deadline, ending speculation that he was set to snub his home circuit after describing it as “a stepping stone” and asking why any top golfer “would play over there”.
McIlroy’s last appearance in a European Tour event was in the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai last November, when he revealed that he had been considering giving up his membership as he turned his focus to the PGA Tour. That led to Keith Pelley, the European Tour chief executive, flying to Belfast for a summit with McIlroy and now, following a spell of uncertainty, the 30-year-old has taken the step the Canadian had been hoping for.
It means McIlroy will tee up in the ASI Scottish Open as a Tour member when it is held for the first time at The Renaissance Club in July. He will also definitely play in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland the following month.
It is believed the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in its new September slot and the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai are also on his schedule in the second half of the season.
Meanwhile, captain Padraig Harrington has opted to reduce the number of European wildcards from four to three for next year’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. The change means that nine players will qualify automatically – five from the world points list and four from a European list.
“I am pleased that the Tournament Committee agreed to the change of wild card numbers,” said Harrington. “I have spoken to a number of people regarding the ninth player automatically qualifying for the team and, in my experience, a player is more comfortable when he has qualified, hence my reasoning behind this change.”