WORLD number nine Rory McIlroy will not join the US PGA Tour next year, and will instead return to the European circuit.
The 21-year-old Northern Irishman opted to take out a full US PGA Tour card 12 months ago, and clinched his first victory in the States with a closing 62 at the Quail Hollow Championship in May. But McIlroy, who has finished third in the last two majors, missed home and has decided to focus predominantly on Europe next year.
Quoted in several newspapers, he said: “I switched on the Golf Channel one morning when I was in the States and began watching the Omega European Masters in Switzerland, and thought to myself ‘I would rather be there, instead’.”
He added: “If you’re not playing well in the States it can be a lonely place. But if you’re not playing well on the European Tour you still have plenty of mates to hang out with.
“Holly [his girlfriend] has another two years at university and we have two dogs, a nice house and I love my life back in Ireland. I don’t ever want to give that up.”
McIlroy made his mind up after speaking to new world number one Lee Westwood, and informed US Tour commissioner Tim Finchem in Shanghai.
“The FedEx Cup is only about money, and you shouldn’t just be going over to play thinking about how much you can make,” said McIlroy.
“I needed a break after the US PGA [in August], but had only one week.
“There is no flexibility in your schedule as the FedEx forces you to appear at those events. I didn’t like that.”
Westwood took over the world rankings top spot from Tiger Woods last month. Woods has endured a tough year, both on and off the golf course, and failed to retain any of his titles in 2010.
His last chance to hang on to a crown came at the Australian Masters in mid-November.
Even the joint-best round of the week – a 65 – on the last day wasn’t enough for the 34-year-old American to claim a first victory in 12 months.
Woods, though, believes he is gradually rediscovering the form which saw him top the world rankings for an amazing 281 consecutive weeks.
He said: “I can do this in streaks. Unfortunately, I haven’t done this for an entire round yet. That’s one of the things when you are making changes in the game – it takes time. I’m pleased at some of the progress I have made because the streaks are now lasting longer. I played like this at the Ryder Cup. I got into a streak there and went pretty low for 15 holes. I just need to get it for all 18 and, eventually, into 72.”