McIlroy Leaning Toward Playing in U.S. Next Year

Rory McIlroy dropped a bomb on reporters during a Q&A session yesterday at Firestone, site of this week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland, who plays on the European Tour, announced that he'll quite likely get his card to play on the PGA Tour next season.

"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," he said. "I feel as if I play my best golf over here. I'm very comfortable in this country. You know, I'm going to look at a few houses down in Florida after the PGA. Yeah, I'm definitely looking towards coming back and playing a full schedule over here."

McIlroy said he looking at a couple of places to live in Florida. "I might go and stay with G-Mac (Graeme McDowell) for a night at Lake Nona and see what that's like and then down in West Palm Beach and Jupiter, around there."

He said he changed his mind about playing in America after winning the U.S. Open at Congressional, a victory that was very popular with American golf fans. He also added that he enjoys the courses. "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'd like to give it a go again and obviously last more than one year and really see how it goes."

Andy Pazder, the Tour's Chief of Operations, said McIlroy won't have any barriers playing next year, other than playing the minimum 15 tournaments required to retain membership.

"In Rory's case, he is able to rejoin the PGA Tour for next season," said in a press conference Wednesday at Firestone. "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. So there are no restrictions on him as far as rejoining the Tour for next year."

Pazder added that McIlroy discussed his options with Tour officials before making his announcement at Firestone. "He talked to a couple of us this morning, indicated that he's given it some thought," Pazder said.

Pazder said that Rory will become a big draw on the Tour. "Rory is an immense talent, and for a person to win the U.S. Open by eight shots, he captivated certainly the fans in the U.S. 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."

Pazder also indicated that he didn't get the sense McIlroy's decision to join the Tour is final. "Well, first of all, I don't think he's made a final decision, so we need to be cautiously optimistic, I suppose. It's important to recognize that. I thought for no particular reason, I just thought that at some point Rory would eventually take membership up, whether it was within a year or five years. I just think that there's something to be said about competing in America. I thought he might possibly rejoin at some point."