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Is McIlroy doing the right thing?

November 12, 2009

Guardian golf writer Lawrence Donegan makes a compelling case in his blog that Rory McIlroy is making a mistake by attempting to join the PGA Tour while retaining his European Tour membership.

"Why shouldn't his plan work exactly as he hopes it will (which is to say, help him fulfill his talent and win majors)?" Donegan asks.

"The answer is because it has never worked for any player, not over the long run. Ask Lee Westwood, who tried the two-tour thing a few years ago and quickly wised up, or Padraig Harrington, whose punishing trans-Atlantic schedule is, I'd bet, part of the reason why his game has gone backwards this year. Better still ask Ernie Els, who is managed by the same company as McIlroy and whose career, terrific though it has been, might serve as a cautionary tale."

Donegan argues that as great as Els' career has been, "it could have been much better."

He might have added Anthony Kim to the mix. Kim remains a PGA Tour member who joined the European Tour this year and has no victories on either tour in 2009.

Then there is this, from Adam Scott, who is contemplating giving up his European Tour membership in 2010: "I believe it's becoming harder and harder to play multiple tours," Scott said. "My playing poorly this year doesn't help. But those years of Ernie Els running second in the U.S. and winning the Order of Merit ... I don't think you're going to see too much of that."

All that said, I'm still in favor of McIlroy attempting the double dip. He's only 20 and single. The major championships and the World Golf Championship events count on both tours. And, as Peter Dixon in the Times, wrote earlier: "Westwood did not enjoy the experience and is unlikely to try it again. McIlroy, on the other hand, is full of the joys of life. He is so young and fit and enthused by all around him that he looks easily able to cope with the demands he is about to put on himself."

So long as he avoids further clogging his schedule with events that guarantee him money while not being official on either tour, isn't it at least worth the effort?

-- John Strege