McIlroy’s wife prompted him to reach compromise deal with European Tour

Erica Stoll asked him what point he was trying to prove over his initial decision not to take up his membership

European Tour compromise - McIlroy takes up membership
Rory McIlroy’s wife Erica Stoll helped persuade him to return to the European Tour (David Davies/PA)

Rory McIlroy has revealed how his wife Erica Stoll prompted the compromise deal which allowed him to rejoin the European Tour.

McIlroy has to play four European Tour events outside the majors and World Golf Championship events to be a member, but initially had just two on his 2019 schedule.

“Everyone has to look out for themselves and next year I’m looking out for me,” McIlroy said during the DP World Tour Championship in November, before describing the European Tour as “a stepping stone” ahead of the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January.

European Tour compromise - McIlroy takes up membership
European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley came up with a compromise for Rory McIlroy’s return following talks (Niall Carson/PA)

However, following a meeting with European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, McIlroy took up his membership before the May 1 deadline and can begin earning points for the 2020 Ryder Cup when qualification begins with this week’s BMW PGA Championship.

Asked what led to the change of heart, McIlroy said: “My wife. She said to me, ‘what are you trying to do, or what sort of point are you trying to make?’.

“I knew at the start of this year I wasn’t going to play the Irish Open and the rule was that you have to play an extra two events if you don’t play your home Open. Keith Pelley and I sat down and I said, ‘Keith, I can’t possibly do that’ and it wasn’t just me.

“Henrik Stenson and Alex Noren and the guys from Sweden, the Swedish Open clashed with some of the FedEx Cup stuff. They were in a similar position, as well.

“Keith came back to me and said, ‘OK if we make a compromise where instead of playing two extra, you have to play three Rolex Series Events a year’ and I said, ‘done, 100 percent done’. Once we had that conversation, it was totally fine.

“I don’t want to try and make the European Tour bend the rules for me in any way, but I just think we’re trying our best over on the other side of the pond, we are trying our best over here and just needed to come to some sort of compromise where we felt comfortable that we can compete on both tours. I think that was a fair deal in the end.”

European Tour compromise - McIlroy takes up membership
McIlroy missed the cut at the Open at Royal Portrush (Richard Sellers/PA)

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Although McIlroy rejoined the European Tour in May he stuck with his decision to miss July’s Irish Open, a tournament he hosted for four years, in favour of playing the Scottish Open instead.

“I felt that my best preparation for the Open Championship this year was to play the Scottish Open and not play the one before. Obviously, in hindsight, I probably should have played it,” joked McIlroy, who missed the cut in the Open after taking a quadruple-bogey eight on the first hole at Royal Portrush.

“But you live and you learn. You make these decisions and you’ve got to live with them. I’ll be playing the Irish Open next year.”

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