The Italian has topped the season-long Race to Dubai standings ever since he got his hands on the claret jug in July, and this week the only player that can take the overall crown from him is Tommy Fleetwood, who won the Race to Dubai previous year. Not the sort of news European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley wanted in the final event of the 2018 season.
Francesco Molinari is looking to crown a "dream year" that saw him win the Open and top the victorious Ryder Cup scoring with a win in Dubai that would make him the year's best player on the European Tour.
With McIlroy's star-power backing, the Irish Open was elevated to become one of the eight mega-bucks Rolex Series events.
"The way the schedule has worked for next year, it is going to be different for a lot of guys".
Molinari became the first Italian to win a major when he claimed The Open at Carnoustie, which followed victory in the PGA Championship at Wentworth and a maiden PGA Tour title in the Quicken Loans National.
McIlroy's decision will be a major blow to European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, who launched the Rolex Series a year ago in an effort to prevent Europe's star names from flocking to the lucrative PGA Tour. I have lived a dream year and I still van't believe it.
'If I want to contend in the majors and continue my journey back towards the top of the game, that's what I want to do.
Sky Sports pundit Paul McGinley said ahead of the DP World Tour Championship that the decision was "very disappointing" and "hard to understand", but McIlroy says he is not fazed with the negative reaction he is getting. "I am always going to want to play the Ryder Cup and I will try and make the team the year later". I guess my big thing is I want to play against the strongest fields week in, week out, and for the most part of the season that is in America.
Both the European Tour and PGA Tour have undergone big changes to their schedules for next year, while the major season has been condensed into just four months following the PGA Championship's move to May, while the Players Championship moves to March.
At 4 under, Molinari is now tied for fifth among the 60-man field, and should he finish the week inside the top 5 he would clinch the Race to Dubai crown regardless of Fleetwood's performance. "I know it's not going to be easy, and I'm not making any assumptions, but I'll do my best on the course to do the job", he said.
All that to say, I'm not sure this is as big of a deal as its being made into. "I think so far it's only been given to Olympic gold medallists or world champions".