A momentous time for European golf just got even better as Martin Kaymer has followed Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy in turning down membership on the PGA Tour next season.
The sport's newest major champion made his decision known at the Dubai World Championship, where on Sunday he hopes to be crowned the European Tour's leading money-winner this season and maybe world No. 1 as well.
Kaymer, now an honorary member of the PGA Tour along with U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell and British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, lives part of the year in Arizona, but even that was not enough to prompt him to play both circuits in 2011. His victory at the 2010 PGA Championship gives him a five-year PGA Tour exemption, however.
"I consider European Tour as my home -- that is where I feel comfortable," said the 25-year-old German on Tuesday in Dubai. "I think you play against the best players in the world. You have all of the great players here and schedule-wise it doesn't fit for me next year to play on the PGA Tour."
Asked if he had received a call from PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, Kaymer added: "Not yet. Maybe I'll get one on Monday.
"I made my decision. I sat down last week with my manager and family and had a look at the schedule,” he epxlained. “I will play probably two or three more events in America, but mainly I will play in Europe."
Westwood, who replaced Tiger Woods at the top of the rankings almost a month ago, has put family first, while McIlroy has handed in his PGA Tour membership after just one season because he was missing Europe so much.
"I would have thought they would want as many of the top world-ranked players playing in their events as possible," said Westwood, whose only trips to the United States now will be for three majors, three World Golf Championships, the Players Championship and three others.
As PGA Tour members, the trio would be required to play a minimum of 15 tournaments, though the British Open counts as one of them. Players must play 13 European Tour events (the U.S.-based majors and World Golf Championships count toward that number).
European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady was understandably jubilant on hearing Kaymer's news.
"Naturally enough, we're delighted he's going to show us such full support,” he said. "The dates set a tough challenge for everybody on where they play and we've always said to players that you must do what's right for your development as a player.
"To be a great golfer you've got to be a great player in America as well, but you are going to go there for the three majors if you are at that level, three world championships and other ones,” he added. "Playing the European Tour gives you those opportunities. They can play anywhere in the world now."