McIlroy u-turn as he prepares to rejoin US Tour
Published 04/08/2011 | 05:00
The PGA Tour is rubbing its hands with glee after Rory McIlroy revealed he is ready to rejoin the American Tour from the start of next year.
In a surprise turnaround, McIlroy yesterday told PGA Tour officials of his desire to take up 2012 membership.
Last November, at the close of the WGC Champions event in Shanghai, McIlroy indicated he was unhappy with his lifestyle, competing in the States -- he was missing his Northern Ireland home and playing in Europe.
So much so, McIlroy sought out PGA commissioner Tim Finchem in Shanghai to tell him he was quitting the Tour after just one season.
Now in a complete U-turn, McIlroy will play the mandatory 15 PGA Tour events, balancing that with the compulsory 13 to retain European Tour membership.
His decision can, in part, be attributed to his break-up with long-time girlfriend Holly Sweeney and the fact he's been seeing Danish tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
"Maybe it's to do with changes in my personal life, definitely," he said. "It's not common for someone from Ireland to be comfortable with the golf courses over here, but they just seem to suit my game, my ball flight and so on.
"I feel as if I play my best golf over here in the States. I am very comfortable in this country.
"I've always had a great relationship with the officials on the PGA Tour and they fully understood how I felt at the end of last year.
"But things change and while I have not made a certain decision, it is something I am seriously considering."
McIlroy's decision to play more in the States is a huge boost for the PGA Tour, given the European Tour's domination of the Majors over the past two seasons.
The PGA Tour's chief of operations Andy Pazder said he was ecstatic that McIlroy is close to returning full-time to the States.
"I thought for no particular reason that Rory would again take up membership and whether it was within a year or five years, I thought he would return," he said.
"There's something to be said competing in America and that's why I thought he would consider rejoining.
"He's a young person of 22 years of age who has quite a bit of golf ahead of him. He still has to make a final decision and if it works out that he's rejoining the PGA Tour then we're ecstatic.
"Rory has an immense talent and he's a personable young man -- he would be an asset for us without a question. But he's got a lot to consider and we will help in any way possible."
And with TV contracts with the PGA Tour up for renewal at the end of 2012 McIlroy's membership could be pivotal in the Tour's dealing with the giant US networks.
"Rory is an immense talent and for a person to win the US Open by eight shots, he certainly captivated the fans in the US and frankly around the world," said Pazder.
"So, to have him potentially as a member next year is very important, and if it works out we will be quite happy with that."
McIlroy intends spending a few days after next week's US PGA with good friend and fellow US Open winner Graeme McDowell at his Lake Nona house in Florida.
And McIlroy will use the time to seek out a house to his liking.
"G-Mac is very keen for me to come down and see Lake Nona, but I will also look at Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter, and around there," he said.
Pazder indicated that McIlroy has 30 days after the close of the season-ending Disney Championship to make a decision -- that means his deadline to rejoin is November 30.
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