AKRON, OHIO—Rory McIlroy was only joking during the awards ceremony at the U.S. Open when he said he liked it so much on this side of the pond that he might move here. Or was he?
The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland said, in response to a question toward the end of his news conference at Firestone Country Club, that he is “leaning towards” rejoining the PGA Tour and will be shopping for houses in Florida after the PGA Championship next week.
“Yeah, I’m definitely looking towards coming back and playing a full schedule over here,” he said during his pre-tournament session at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, his first appearance in the U.S. after having won the Open in a romp at Congressional Country Club.
If he does rejoin the PGA Tour, which he played in 2010 and about which he had some misgivings, that would mean he will be in the 2012 FedEx Cup Playoffs. And those begin with the Barclays at Bethpage Black.
“The only thing about the FedEx was that you only got a week off after the PGA and then straight back into four weeks out of five that were pretty tough. It’s hard to keep it going for that length of time. But it’s something that you just have to accept,” he said.
The question about the PGA Tour came moments after he had expressed some regret over controversial comments he made at the end of the British Open. At the time, he had said that the windy, rainy, cold conditions that often prevail at the British Open just weren’t his cup of tea. He admitted that those remarks might have been somewhat intemperate.
But when he was asked why he is leaning toward becoming a full-time American golfer, he said, “the weather.” He joined in reporters’ laughter, then added, “I mean, I just thought about it. I feel as if my game really suits playing courses over here. I love Quail Hollow, Honda, Doral, the 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,” he said.
Another factor might have been his personal life, which has been well covered in his home country of Northern Ireland. He recently broke up with a longtime girlfriend. Did that have an impact on his thoughts? “Maybe a little, yeah, definitely,” he said.
Part of what makes the Bridgestone compelling is that it will be the first time McIlroy and Tiger Woods are in the field together since McIlroy became a major champion.
“I’ve never paid attention to the comparisons or potential, whatever they say, whether it be Tiger’s 14 [majors] or Jack’s 18 or whatever,” he said. “All I’m doing is looking for my second major and my fourth career win.
“Obviously, I’m a player, but I’m a fan of golf and of sports, and it’s very compelling…everyone wants to know what he’s going to do, how he is going to play, how is his knee. People want to know. It will be interesting,” he said.