SBD/June 21, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

McIlroy Unlikely To Rejoin PGA Tour Despite Popularity After U.S. Open Win

McIlroy hesitant to rejoin PGA Tour in part because of FedExCup
U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy "will resist American overtures to rejoin the PGA Tour" next year, according to Matt Hughes of the LONDON TIMES. McIlroy left the PGA Tour after one year in '09 "because of his reluctance to play 15 tournaments a year -- the minimum requirement for membership -- and has no plans to revisit that decision." The Tour is "keen to recruit a player seen as the future of golf," and Commissioner Tim Finchem held talks with McIlroy's agent, Chubby Chandler, "without reaching an agreement." Chandler said, "He won't play the tour again. I don't think he will play 15 tournaments because that's too difficult. He might be able to get to 12 or 13, but he cannot get up to 15. They need Rory more than he needs them. I don't think he will struggle to get places to play." Hughes notes McIlroy "will play ten more tournaments" in the U.S. this season, though he is "resistant to playing" in the season-ending Playoffs for the FedExCup. Chandler, who also reps Lee Westwood, said, "If they could join without playing the FedEx, there may be a chance" (LONDON TIMES, 6/21). In London, Kevin Garside notes despite "renewed appeals for McIlroy to join the tour and play key events" such as The Players, "the answer remains no." Chandler said, "They (Americans) don’t get it. The TPC does not mean as much to those who are not members (of the PGA Tour) and don’t play here. We don’t work around money. They make enough of that" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/21).

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: McIlroy was asked yesterday if he has given any thoughts to playing more in the U.S., but he said, "Not really." McIlroy: "It seems like all my best golf I play is State-side, so I don’t know. I really enjoy my life back home, and that’s one of the main reasons that I didn’t join the PGA Tour this year. I’m sort of caught in between. I don’t really know what to do" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/21). In New Jersey, Andy Vasquez writes "how McIlroy and his management team navigate the hurdles of the next few months will be critical to the rest of his career." Chandler said, "We’ve got a responsibility to make sure he keeps loving the game and that he don’t burn out. I’ve never handled anybody like him. But we’ve seen people burn out. We’re not going to let that happen with him." He said that McIlroy "will play only 23 events this year and about the same in 2012." Vasquez writes McIlroy is "friendly and down to earth," and despite his success and the possibility of cashing in on sponsorships, "has no interest in creating his own brand or logo." Chandler: "He’s a great example, isn’t he? He speaks nicely. He remembers to thank his mom" (Bergen RECORD, 6/21). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "People have waited for a number of years for a rival to emerge for Tiger Woods -- not somebody Phil’s age who’s in his 40’s, but somebody younger -- and they have fixated on the fact that it could be McIlroy. … Not since Tiger has there been a kid hyped like this kid.” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon: “The rush to judgment in professional sports is insane” (“PTI,” ESPN, 6/20).

ON TOP OF THE WORLD: Golfer Arnold Palmer said McIlroy has "set a pace that is going to help golf tremendously." Palmer: "I think that what he has done -- he's got that fresh look, he’s a young boy and he could really put back all the things that we've been missing lately in the game of golf. ... This young man has set a pace that is something for every young person in the world to shoot for and to be, and I just think it's wonderful” ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 6/21). A USA TODAY editorial states McIlroy has "established himself as golf's fairy-tale prince, destined to challenge the sport's injured and tarnished lion, Tiger Woods." The editorial: "McIlroy is Luke Skywalker, earnest and innocent, on a quest to upend the old order and restore justice to the golf universe. And even if Woods isn't quite a match for Darth Vader, McIlroy's boy-next-door appeal might make him seem so" (USA TODAY, 6/21). In N.Y., Bill Pennington writes, "If Woods can become healthy -- a big if -- the Rory-Tiger rivalry that will probably ensue will see McIlroy as the more popular figure. He will be a favorite of younger golf fans and non-American golf fans, and he will probably win over the considerable number of golf fans who found Woods’s transgressions repugnant" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/21). In Charlotte, Ron Green Sr. writes under the header, "Rory McIlroy Has The Game, And The Sizzle" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 6/21).

IT'S A SMALL WORLD, AFTER ALL: European golfers have won the past two U.S. Opens, and in DC, Tracee Hamilton writes, "I don’t think nationality matters all that much in 2011." The crowd at Congressional Country Club on Sunday -- which, "while somewhat diverse, was still dominated by white Americans -- cheered for good shots and groaned for bad shots regardless of where the golfer was born." McIlroy's nationality "didn’t make his record-blasting weekend any less fun to watch." Davis Love III said, "The world is a smaller place, so I think we’re going to have to get used to it. Look at the leader board every week on tour. It’s a third U.S. and a third European and then a third Asian or South African, Australian guys" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/21).
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