Parry set to return to Challenge Tour after withdrawal

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Harrogate’s John Parry faces a return to the Challenge Tour after declining the opportunity to win back his European Tour card at Qualifying School.

On returning home from the Hong Kong Open last weekend after a ninth missed cut in 11 tournaments brought an end to his two-year stay on the elite circuit, Parry tweeted “good to be back home, but how long for? some big decisions to make over the next day or so”.

That decision would be whether or not he took the option to head to the final stage of qualifying in Spain this Saturday for the first day of six rounds of the most desperate and demanding of golfing tests.

Around 30 cards are available for the 200-odd players at Qualifying School but Parry yesterday withdrew his application to compete.

It means that just 15 months after winning the Vivendi Cup in his rookie season, the 25-year-old is headed back to the grind of the Challenge Tour.

He finished 126th on the Race to Dubai standings and still pocketed 209,112 euros (£179,727) from 35 tournaments.

But he failed to finish in the top 115 to retain his Tour status.

He will get sponsors invitations and exemptions into a number of low-ranking European Tour events in 2012, but his bread and butter will be on a Challenge Tour he would have hoped to have been leaving behind when he earned promotion at the end of 2009.

At the other end of the scale, Rory McIlroy will aim to show he has learnt the lesson of two years ago when he goes head-to-head with Luke Donald in Dubai tomorrow.

The European Tour money list title is on the line, just as it was when McIlroy faced Lee Westwood on the same Earth course at the inaugural Dubai World Championship.

Westwood won their duel by two shots and went on to a six-stroke victory, while the young Northern Irishman ended up third after admitting that he lost the psychological battle in that opening round.

“It was tough to fully concentrate on my own game when you’re looking at the player beside you,” said McIlroy.

“I feel like it’s something I’ve learnt because when I go out with Luke in the last game I’ll only be trying to concentrate on myself.”

The situation this time is that McIlroy will become the circuit’s No 1 only if he wins and Donald, leading by more than £680,000, finishes outside the top nine.

Justin Rose has pulled out to be with his wife Kate in Florida as they await their second child.