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Is Rory making the right decision?

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Former Reuters golf correspondent Tony Jimenez spoke to Tony following Rory McIlroy’s decision to potentially give up his European Tour card next year.

“Rory McIlroy has been criticised in some quarters for announcing that he may give up his European Tour card next year in order to focus his attentions on the U.S circuit but I'm in total agreement with his decision.

He must have no regrets about what he's trying to achieve in his career and from his point of view he's got to be where the best players are. I don't see anything wrong with that.

You've only got one life and you don't want to be looking back with regrets. The best tournaments are all that matter to a top golfer, all the other stuff is unimportant. The majors are the be-all and end-all for the great players and Rory is obviously a great player.

He's only doing what he thinks is best for his golf game. Sometimes in our game you need to be selfish and strong. The opinions of other people don't matter as much as your own and you have to look out for number one.

I wish I'd have done exactly the same as Rory in the 1970s. I was a bit of a European pioneer in those days. I'd won the 1969 Open and the 1970 U.S. Open and I had an exemption to play in the States.

My management team, though, pointed me towards Europe. They convinced me that, because I was European, I had to play in Europe but that was a huge mistake. I should have been competing against the best players week-in, week-out, and I chose wrong. 

I was influenced by people who had their own agendas, their own ulterior motives. I tried to be all things to all people and you simply can't do that.

If I had a chance to do it all again I would do it differently in the blink of an eye. There's no question in my mind I'd have stayed at the top for longer if I had based myself in the States. Instead, I just drifted around for five years or so when I was as good as anyone else out there.

The rules suggest that Rory won't be allowed to become a Ryder Cup captain or vice-captain in the future if he surrenders his tour card for a year but I don't think that needs to be an issue for him.

His legacy will be more as a player than a captain. I never even thought about being captain in the 70s. It never entered my head and I don't think it should enter Rory's head either.

My circumstances were different. When I took over as captain the Ryder Cup wasn't anything like it is now. I just happened to be the one who was in a position to make a difference in my era.

The fact that I was dropped from the team in 1981 and the great Seve Ballesteros was also sidelined that same year, those kind of circumstances won't occur again. In the 80s there was an opportunity to recognise the failings of previous Ryder Cups but that's not something Rory is going to have to worry about because the event these days is on a positive upwards path. Anyone who makes the team now is proud to take part and that will be the case for generations to come.

It's far more important for Rory to be thinking about performing at the highest level. He's doing what he thinks is best for his golf game and I wish him well.”