Northern Irishman will also miss Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA in January as he concentrates on commitments to the PGA Tour
Organisers 'fully respect' Rory McIlroy's decision to miss 2019 Omega Dubai Desert Classic
Organisers of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic say they fully respect Rory McIlroy’s decision to miss next year’s event, and look forward to welcoming the two-time champion back in future.
The former world No 1, a four-time major winner, confirmed on Tuesday that he will sit out both the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA and the Desert Classic in January as he concentrates on commitments to the PGA Tour.
It represents the first time since turning professional in 2007 that McIlroy has chosen not to play either event. Instead, he will begin his 2019 campaign at the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
McIlroy shares a strong affinity with the UAE and Dubai especially, having first played the Desert Classic in 2006 on a sponsor’s invite. He won three years later to seal a first professional victory and added another title at Emirates Golf Club in 2015. Next year’s event, which runs January 24-27 and follows directly after Abu Dhabi, marks the 10-year anniversary to McIlroy’s breakthrough triumph.
“Rory has been an integral part of Dubai and the UAE’s ‘golfing DNA’ since 2006 when he played in his first Omega Dubai Desert Classic as an amateur before going on to win his first professional event, the 2009 Omega Dubai Desert Classic, which he won again in 2015,” tournament director David Spencer told The National.
“Rory has also won the Race to Dubai three times and the DP World Tour Championship twice and he has always featured strongly in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA. We fully respect any decision that Rory takes to create a path back to being the No 1 player in the world, which we know is his 2019 goal.”
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Speaking on the sidelines of this week’s DP World Tour Championship, McIlroy told gathered media that, at present, he plans to play two “pure” European Tour events next year in a bid to make his way back to the top of the game.
The move would mean the Northern Irishman, currently seventh in the world rankings, would not satisfy the European Tour’s membership requirements – four tournaments outside the majors and WGC events – although McIlroy did emphasise that he had yet to settle on his European schedule because of next year’s revised calendar for world golf.
“We will miss seeing Rory at the 2019 Desert Swing, but we also know that Rory loves being in the UAE and we will welcome him back with big and open arms when he returns in the future,” Spencer said.
“The world of professional golf is extremely arduous and a very long journey. The UAE was the first global golf destination to recognise Rory’s special talents and we know that we will see Rory back on our greens in the near future.
“We wish Rory all the very best for 2019 and beyond and thank him for the incredible contribution he has already made to golf in the UAE, the European Tour and the Race To Dubai.”