McIlroy does a U-Turn on PGA Tour
First it was the buzz surrounding the return of Tiger Woods. Next it was the excitement of Europe’s superstar golfer heading west, and back to compete full-time in the United States.
In a surprise turnaround, Rory McIlroy will rejoin the U.S. Tour next year.
The reigning U.S. Open winner met with PGA Tour officials during the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio expressing a desire to rejoin 2012 membership.
It was less than a year ago during the WGC – HSBC Champions event in Shanghai that McIlroy indicated he was discontented with his lifestyle stateside.
He revealed he was missing the comforts of his Northern Ireland home and the camaraderie of the European Tour. So much so, McIlroy advised PGA Commissioner, Tim Finchem he would quitting the Tour after just one season.
Now in a complete U-turn, McIlroy will play the mandatory 15 PGA Tour events and also balance that with the compulsory 13 to retain European Tour membership.
And McIlroy admitted his decision, in part, is a result of breaking up with long-time girlfriend, Holly Sweeney and the fact he’s been seen in the States with stunning Danish-born tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
“Maybe it’s to do with changes in my personal life, definitely,” McIlroy 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 love Quail Hollow, Memorial, Akron, the Match Play, Honda, Doral and the Masters. You have your favourite events, and most of my favourite events seem to be on this side of ‘The Pond’.
“I feel as if I play my best golf over here in the States. I am very comfortable in this country.
“Also, 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 Europe currently dominates the ancient club-and-ball game.
He made his decision known to the PGA Tour’s Andy Pazder, Chief of Operations and Ross Berlin, Senior Vice-President, Player Relations.
Pazder admitted he was ecstatic McIlroy was returning full-time to the States.
“It was a visit he had with Ross initially and then I was able to speak with him but 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,” said Pazder.
“There’s something to be said about competing in America and that’s why I thought he would consider rejoining.”
“He’s a young person who’s 22 years of age and who has quite a bit of golf ahead of him.”
“He still has to make a final decision and if it works out he is rejoining the PGA Tour then we’re ecstatic about that.
“Rory has an immense talent, he’s a personable young man and 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 with his thought process.”
And with multi-million dollar TV contracts with the PGA Tour up for renewal at the end of 2012, McIlroy’s membership could now be pivotal in the Tour’s dealing with the giant U.S. networks.
“To have him potentially as a member next year is very important and if it works out we will be quite happy with that,” he said.