Rory McIlroy admits he has to take a “selfish view” of his special exemption to remain in the Race to Dubai, in spite of the repercussions for other players.
The ankle injury which forced McIlroy to sit out three tournaments this summer, including the defence of his Open title at St Andrews, means he will not play the 13 events required to remain in the Race to Dubai, even though he currently leads the rankings.
However, European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley cited “exceptional circumstances” in granting McIlroy permission to play 12 events as he tries to win the Harry Vardon Trophy for the third time in four years.
McIlroy is therefore eligible for a share of the 5million US dollars bonus pool, but also affects the top 30 on the money list on November 15 who qualify for next year’s Open, the top 60 who make the season-ending DP World Tour Championship and the 110 players who keep their card for next season.
The four-time major winner said: “I feel like I have a chance to win the Race to Dubai and it would look pretty silly in Dubai if I was leading and couldn’t play. I think it was more of a common-sense move than anything else.
“We had to be careful, especially because I’m included in the Race to Dubai now, so number 61 doesn’t get in, number 111 doesn’t get his card... so it was a tough decision for them (European Tour) to make.
“For me it’s more about the 111th guy, who loses his card. That’s the big thing. What do I do? Send him a bit of a Christmas present? It’s a hard one. I can’t really think of that.
“If I was to look at it really selfishly the 111th guy could have made one more putt or cut to get his card. I just have to think about myself and take a bit of a selfish view of it, I’m afraid.
“But at the end of the day it’s not about the bonus pool, I want to win the Race to Dubai. If I can win the Race to Dubai playing 12 events... at least give me the opportunity. I would have played more if I could.
“There were three more events but I couldn’t play and with the schedule I have coming up, having to go to California to play in the Frys.com, it’s what I could commit to, especially as I don’t really want to play more than two weeks in a row.
“I was only going to play HSBC and Dubai but I added Turkey because I at least wanted to fulfil three of the four (Final Series) and they were happy enough with that. I’m glad we came to that decision and I’m at least able to have a goal for the rest of the year.”
That will be music to the ears of Pelley, as will McIlroy’s belief that he will always remain a member of his home circuit.
McIlroy admits he has considered copying Paul Casey in concentrating solely on the PGA Tour, a move which will make Casey ineligible for the Ryder Cup unless he rejoins the European Tour.
But the world number three added: “I’ve contemplated it in the future but will I ever do it? Probably not. I feel like I owe a lot to the European Tour, they gave me a lot of playing opportunities at the start of my career and I’m pretty grateful for that.
“I had a great chat with Keith Pelley this week about some of the plans the European Tour has going forward and I’m excited to be a part of that.
“I think he has a really good vision of where he wants the tour to go, so I am excited to be part of the European Tour and be under a little bit of new leadership and guidance and see where he can take it. I’m going to be supportive of that.
“I’m always going to be a European Tour member, I’d say. I’m sure there is going to be some give and take in the future because at least half the Ryder Cup team are based in the States with families.
“To reduce travel we’re going to have to figure something out. Whether it’s reduce the minimum tournaments from 13 to 11, or whatever it is.
“Paul’s life is in America. He’s got a young family. If you’re someone that values what you should, you’re always going to choose family over playing any golf tournament, no matter if it’s the Ryder Cup.
“Okay, the European team would be slightly weaker with the way Paul’s playing, but if that’s the decision he wants to make I don’t think anyone would begrudge him that.”