Lowry well placed after opening round at European Tour finale in Dubai

Rory Mc Ilroy in action

McIlroy is only scheduled to play two regular Tour events in 2019 as he concentrates on the PGA Tour Credit AFP

'Hopefully I'll be able to do the job this week and then sit down next week and start reflecting and digest everything that's happened before starting to prepare for next year'.

"It's 20 years away", McIlroy added.

"You can have the best week of your life and win one tournament, but to win a competition that lasts throughout the season, with the amount of talent there is right now on the European Tour, is something really hard to do but also still hard to figure out for me how I'm here in this position".

Still, there is time once the PGA Tour season ends in August if McIlroy so chooses, including the South African event he played last week and the Dubai tournament in July. I guess my thing is that I want to play against the strongest fields week-in and week-out and for the most part of the season that is in America.

"If I want to continue to contend in the majors. and to continue my journey back towards the top of the game, then that's what I want to do".

That could change of course.

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For once, the European Tour is in charge on a DFS gameweek! McIlroy simply hasn't committed to anything past August when the PGA Tour slate ends.

With an off-season of that length, no wonder there were some in Dubai who looked at the idea that he couldn't find a measly four events to retain his membership as something of an abject betrayal.

First awarded in 1955, the Collare d'Oro al Merito Sportivo can only be bestowed on an athlete once in a career, for achieving the pinnacle in their sport, and there can be no doubt of Molinari's merit after he won the Open Championship and then became the first European to win five out of five points in the Ryder Cup. And it's a decision that could see him give up his chance to ever become a Ryder Cup Captain.

It's unclear whether McIlroy is aware of the rule that was introduced at the start of 2018, which dictated: "The committee also introduced a new regulation stating that players can not be a European Ryder Cup Captain or a Vice-Captain if they decline membership of the European Tour or fail to fulfil their minimum event obligation in any season, from 2018 onwards'".

I laughed out loud at that. McIlroy explained: "It is the result of the changes". That won't be an issue.

"It feels good to be back", said the 2017 European Tour Rookie of the Year who has enjoyed another solid season with a third title win at the Open de Espana and ended a debut Ryder Cup berth with a memorable 2&1 victory over Tiger Woods in the Sunday singles matches. 'I am always going to want to play the Ryder Cup and I will try and make the team the year later.' McIlroy heads into the World Tour Championship ranked sixth in the Race to Dubai. PGA Tour in the spring and summer.

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