Rory McIlroy on course for return to Wentworth

Rory McIlroy has hinted that he will put the BMW PGA Championship back on his schedule next year, but Turkey is set to remain off the menu for the world number two.

Rory McIlroy on course for return to Wentworth

McIlroy had missed the cut in three of his six appearances at Wentworth before tasting victory in 2014, and also made an early exit in defence of his title 12 months later.

The four-time major winner did not play this year but is set to feature in 2017 when the event will be part of the European Tour’s new Rolex Series, a group of seven tournaments with a minimum prize fund of $7m (€6.5m).

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see me back at Wentworth next year,” said McIlroy, who also welcomed the inclusion of the Irish Open — hosted by his own foundation — in the Rolex Series.

The European Tour and Rolex will make up the €11.5m total shortfall in funding for the BMW PGA Championship, Irish Open, and Scottish Open, with the Italian Open, Turkish Airlines Open, Nedbank Golf Challenge and DP World Tour Championship already meeting the prize-fund requirements.

McIlroy warmly welcomed the inclusion of the Irish Open in the European Tour’s new Rolex Series. The Irish Open’s prize fund will now increase by more than €2m.

“I’m very grateful for the European Tour and Rolex including the Irish Open in this Rolex Series,” McIlroy said. “The Irish Open’s been given a great date as well. It’s two weeks before the Open on a links golf course (Portstewart). We’re really excited about it.

“It doesn’t change my schedule that much but it gives guys an incentive to maybe play a little bit more on this side of the pond leading up to the Open Championship.

“It’s getting more and more difficult to play two tours. With the regulations that the PGA Tour are putting upon us and with how great the events are becoming over here, it’s hard to jump back and forth and play tournaments.

“So I think you might see more guys spending prolonged periods in either/or, because jumping back and forth, you can do it for so long, but in the long run, it just doesn’t work too well.”

However, even the riches on offer in Turkey seem unlikely to tempt McIlroy back following his withdrawal from this year’s event due to security concerns. McIlroy was not alone in pulling out, but as the star attraction his absence was keenly felt and the manner of his withdrawal drew criticism from Turkish Golf Federation president Ahmet Agaoglu.

The 27-year-old also missed the Olympics in Rio after citing concerns over the zika virus, but does not feel his reputation has suffered as a result.

“I think I do enough good things on the golf course and off the golf course in terms of what I do charity-wise and how I try to carry myself,” McIlroy said ahead of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. “Pulling out of a couple of golf tournaments I don’t think is going to damage that.

“I’d rather go to Turkey wanting to win the golf tournament than go to Turkey and not want to be there and finish 40th. What good does that do for the tournament?”

As part of the changes, the Final Series — which was only launched in 2013 — will cease to exist, but European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley insisted it had not been a failure.

“We felt that the creation of the Rolex Series combined with The Race to Dubai were the best two brands that we could build. This is the natural next step for us. This is in the infancy stages. This will evolve. This will get larger and larger, but I’m excited we’re launching it in 2017.

“We need a product that can grow and grow over time, that provides a strong financial offering for our young players so they don’t have to go to the United States.”

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