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Tony Jacklin has jumped to the defence of Rory McIlroy after the Northern Irishman was widely criticised for suggesting that he might give up his European Tour membership next season to focus on the PGA Tour.

Speaking ahead of last week’s DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, McIlroy said: “Everyone has to look out for themselves and next year I’m looking out for me.”

This was met with disapproval from many quarters, with McIlroy’s fellow Irishman and former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley describing it as ‘quite extraordinary’ and ‘very disappointing’.

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However, two-time major winner Jacklin has backed McIlroy on the matter, adding that he wishes he had done likewise when he was at the peak of his powers in the 1970s.

Tony Jacklin

“I was a bit of a European pioneer in those days. I’d won the 1969 Open and the 1970 US Open and I had an exemption to play in the States,” Jacklin told Reuters.

“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.

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“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.”

European Tour

He added: “I’m in total agreement with [Rory’s] 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.

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“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.”

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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