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Robert Karlsson aiming to be PGA Rookie of the Year
February 2, 2011

Robert Karlsson begins a new chapter in his career next month when he and his family move to North Carolina as the veteran Swedish golfer attempts to become a U.S. PGA Tour rookie of the year at the age of 41.

The 2008 European number one has made many short forays across the Atlantic but he has always wanted to give the circuit a prolonged try and this year has taken out PGA Tour membership for the first time.

“I joined the U.S. Tour because it’s something I wanted to do, rather than end my career by not becoming a member and then saying to myself, ‘I wish I had at least played one full season in the States’,” Karlsson told Reuters in an interview.

“I got the chance to join having finished runner-up to Lee Westwood last year at the St Jude Classic in Memphis … and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.

“I played a good few tournaments there in 2007 but this year it will be a full 15-event schedule,” added the world number 16 ahead of his Qatar Masters title defence this week.

Karlsson, who also won the Dubai World Championship in November, and his family have vacated their Monte Carlo home and bought a property in Charlotte.

The location is just a short drive from the venue for the Quail Hollow Championship that is held in May, an event won by young Briton Rory McIlroy last year.

“I was in Charlotte on one of my first visits to America and I liked the city and the region,” explained Karlsson. “I’m only 15-20 minutes drive from Quail Hollow and I went there after New Year to play a round so I will add that event to my schedule.

“My schedule this year will be to play the minimum 15 events I have to play in the States and also the 12 or 13 you have to play on the European Tour.

“My wife and children have moved over and they’re very happy with the move from Monaco. Having a base over there is going to be a big plus,” added the former Ryder Cup player.

There was much debate at the end of last season about European heavyweights McIlroy, Westwood and Martin Kaymer turning down U.S. Tour membership.

Karlsson, though, is one of four top European Tour members who will try their hand States-side this year, along with U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell, British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and South African Charl Schwartzel.

“In contrast to Rory … I’m married and my family are now settling in the States and that’s going to make it easier all round,” said the Swede.

“Also the problem is that if I did not become a PGA Tour member I would only be entitled as a top-50 world-ranked player to four invites plus the Players Championship.

“I want to play more than that in the States, at least for one season, and then depending on how I perform I will reassess it at the end of this year,” said Karlsson.

The 11-times European Tour winner said he wanted to end his career with at least one U.S. victory to his name.

“Having gone so close to winning in Memphis it would be nice to win a PGA Tour event and that’s the big goal rather than thinking it might give me a better chance to win the majors by living in America,” said Karlsson.

“I’m defending here in Qatar and then playing at the Dubai Desert Classic next week before taking a week off and then starting in the U.S. at the Los Angeles Open.”

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