Imagine if LeBron James, instead of taking his talents to South Beach, decided to take those otherworldly basketball skills to Europe instead of the NBA, and brought Dwyane Wade and Kevin Durant with him. That’s not too different from what’s happening in golf. Lee Westwood, the world’s No. 1 player, and Rory McIlroy, arguably the world's most promising player, have decided to play on the lower-profile, less lucrative European tour instead of the PGA Tour next year. Martin Kaymer, the game's hottest player, has yet to decide if he will play on the PGA Tour in 2011.
McIlroy, who was a member of the PGA Tour in 2010, announced his jump back to a Europe-based schedule to BBC Radio on Tuesday.
"There was camaraderie out there and I got to know the European guys better," he told BBC Radio 5 live. "If you're not playing well in the United States, then it can be lonely, but over here you have your mates."
He added: "I found myself thinking during the playoffs for FedEx Cup, not wanting to be there. I switched on the Golf Channel and watched the event in Switzerland and felt I wanted to be there.
"I'll still play 11 or 12 tournaments out there, but not as a member."
The PGA Tour requires members to play at least 15 Tour events, while the European tour requires 13 events. The majors and the three of the four World Golf Championships count toward eligibility on both tours. (The WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai does not count toward the PGA Tour's 15-event minimum.)
McIlroy said that one of the reasons he is dropping his PGA Tour membership is that he wants to reduce his schedule in 2011. The Northern Irishman also said he wants to stay closer to home.
"If I play 22 or 23 events, I know I'll be fresh and ready for all of them, instead of playing 30 and maybe in 10 of them just showing up."
McIlroy admitted he wanted to be nearer his girlfriend Holly and enjoyed his family life at home. "Holly 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." (Photo: Robert Beck/SI)