AKRON, Ohio, USA August 4 – Reigning US Open champion Rory McIlroy said Wednesday that he is leaning toward returning to the US PGA Tour, saying he prefers warm and sunny US playing conditions to wind-swept European courses.
The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland made his comments on the eve of the World Golf Championships Bridgestone Invitational, his first event on US soil since capturing his first major title in June at Congressional Country Club.
“I’m definitely looking towards coming back and playing a full schedule over here,” McIlroy said. “I spoke to a couple of the guys from the PGA Tour today about it and I’m leaning towards taking my card up again definitely.”
McIlroy plans on house hunting in Florida after the year’s final major tournament, the PGA Championship next week at Atlanta Athletic Club.
“I feel as if I play my best golf over here. I’m very comfortable in this country,” McIlroy said.
“I’m going to look at a few houses down in Florida after the PGA. I might go and stay with G-Mac for a night at Lake Nona and see what that’s like and then down in West Palm Beach and Jupiter, around there.”
McIlroy, who saw his British Open title hopes gone with the wind for the second year in a row last month at Royal St. Georges, said that experience with the weather pushed him toward another test of the American circuit, which he said last year involved too much travel for his liking as he played in Europe.
“I just thought about it. I feel as if my game really suits playing courses over here,” McIlroy said. “I love Quail Hollow, Memorial, Akron. You play Match Play, Honda, Doral, Masters. You have your favorite events, and most of my favorite events seem to be on this side of the pond.
“And my game suits it over here. I’m very comfortable over here. I would like to give it a go again and obviously last more than one year and really see how it goes.”
McIlroy disliked the US PGA playoff format, which allows top-level players only one week off after the PGA Championship before a run of four events in five weeks to conclude the season.
“It’s hard to keep it going for that length of time, but yeah, it’s something that you just have to accept,” McIlroy said, adding the also will likely take part in the Players Championship in May, an event he skipped this year.
McIlroy’s return adds a boost and an exciting young star to a US PGA Tour in need of fresh faces as television contract renegotiations lurk later this year.
US PGA Tour vice president Andy Pazder said there are no problems from McIlroy dropping his membership before and returning next year.
“In Rory’s case, he is able to rejoin the PGA Tour for next season,” Pazder said. “He needs to let us know within 30 days following our final official money event, the Children’s Miracle Network Classic, and he is a member in good standing and would be obligated to play 15 tournaments or more in 2012.”
Pazder was among those who spoke to McIlroy on Wednesday about a return.
“He talked to a couple of us this morning, indicated that he’s given it some thought, certainly didn’t indicate to us at that time that it was a final decision,” Pazder said.
“I heard the press conference just like the rest of you did and he certainly gave strong indication. He has plenty of time to make a final decision and if it works out that he’s rejoining the PGA Tour, obviously we’re ecstatic.
“An immense talent and a personable young man, he’d be an asset for us, no question. He captivated certainly the fans in the US and frankly around the world so to have him potentially as a member next year is very significant.
“If it works out that that is what happens, then we’ll be quite happy with that.”