Race to Dubai leader Rory McIlroy looks certain to chase the American dream by taking up PGA Tour membership next year.

Three weeks ago, McIlroy admitted that he was thinking seriously about playing on both sides of the Atlantic.

Now it appears that he has made up his mind, though the official announcement will not come until the eve of the Dubai World Championship on November 18, two weeks before the PGA Tour's application deadline.

Despite the dangers of splitting his time between the European and US tours, McIlroy is expected to have no problems making Colin Montgomerie's 2010 Ryder Cup team. He was third behind Players Championship winner Henrik Stenson and England's Lee Westwood in non-member earnings on the PGA Tour this season with $849,719 from 11 starts.

With four places available off the world rankings and five from the European points list, his manager Chubby Chandler believes his star commodity will qualify it easily.

"Rory’s spoken to me about his plans and we’re naturally keeping that close to our chests at the moment," Chandler said this week. "It will not make any difference where Rory plays next year. He should automatically qualify for the Ryder Cup team"

McIlroy played 11 PGA Tour events this year and would have qualified for the four FedEx Cup play-off events had he been a member. His best finish was a share of third place in the US PGA at Hazeltine.

Players must play 15 PGA Tour events to retain membership.

The Europe Tour minimum is 12 with he Tournament Committee last night contemplating a new rule that would require players to play in four of six "core" events on European soil.

McIlroy is playing his 21st counting event of the European Tour season in the Portugal Masters, where he putted poorly in an opening 69 to trail leader Francesco Molinari of Italy by six shots.

England's Lee Westwood, his closest Race to Dubai rival this week at fourth in the rankings, threw down the gauntlet with a superb 66.