This is supposed to be the showcase event for the European Tour over in Dubai — the season-ending DP World Tour Championship — another big money Rolex Series week and it seems everyone is doing their part over in the desert with the exception of one player and goodness, is it a big-name player.
Rory McIlroy dropped a giant stink-bomb on the Dubai party this week, hinting that he’s going to give the European Tour the bum’s rush or the cold shoulder, if you prefer.
As of right now, he’s only scheduled to appear in the European Masters in Switzerland next year and may commit the mortal sin of skipping the Irish Open in favor of the Scottish Open as a warmup the week before the Open Championship next July.
Rory boy only has to play in four European Tour events to retain his membership and right now, it’s looking like he may not do that.
“Right now, that is all sort of up in the air, but if it were to be that I don’t fulfill my membership next year, it’s not a Ryder Cup year, so it’s not the end of the world,” says young Rory, sending the European Tour folks to the nearest bathroom with severe nausea. I am always going to want to play the Ryder Cup, so if that does happen, so be it, and I will try and make the Ryder Cup team the year after.”
There’s also this little tidbit, courtesy of the new Euro rule that came into being last January. It reads like this:
Players cannot be a European Ryder Cup captain or vice captain if they decline membership of the European Tour or fail to fulfill their minimum event obligation in any season.”
Which basically means that an older version of today’s under-achieving Rory, would not be able to serve as a European Ryder Cup captain or Vice Captain.
Shame on ‘ya, Rory-boy!
You can already hear the lads cursing Rory in pubs all over Ireland.
So that’s how this week’s formalities started.
By Thursday it was time to play and the odds-on favorite to emerge as the No. 1 player in Europe — Open champion Francesco Molinari — was certainly appearing to do what he was supposed to do. Frankie was six-under par through 16 holes, tied for the lead with a couple of guys you’ve never heard of — Jordan Smith and Adrian Otaegui. Smith and Otaebui were in the house with six-under par 66s and Frankie looked a cinch to post seven-under.
Then, without warning, he three-putted from 12 feet at the short par four 15th, missing a par putt from three feet. Then at the birdie hole — the par five 18th — he appeared to be dreaming about his mother’s favorite lasagna recipe when he up and blew a one-and-a-half footer for par. Two brain farts and Molinari went from shooting 66 to 68.
Despite his late-round screw-up, Molinari was still a shot better than playing partner Tommy Fleetwood, the only player who has a glimmer of a chance to beat him for the Race To Dubai title.
So there were Frankie and Tommy, playing well and in position to draw some fans the next few days.
Then there was Rory, who shot a fairly unimpressive 69 on a day made for low scores.
But it wasn’t any birdie putt that Rory dropped on Friday that garnered any notice.
It was that giant stink-bomb he dropped on Tuesday.
And Rory added a little more stink with this departing gem:
“Look, everyone has to look out for themselves. And next year, I’m looking out for me.”
And that should piss off a lot of folks in Europe.
Editor’s Update: The Race To Dubai door has been opened wide for Tommy Fleetwood. He’s the only one besides Molinari who can win the overall title but he’ll need to be in the winner’s circle on Sunday. Molinari’s 73 on Friday left him at three-under, eight behind with his “A” game no where in sight. Tommy’s in the hunt, eight-under after 36 and just three behind leader Matt Wallace (68-65). McIlroy was paired with Patrick Reed on Friday and once again Reed got the better of Rory with a closing birdie to shoot 66, beating McIlroy by a shot. Both are in contention — Reed is nine-under, Rory’s eight-under going into the weekend.