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Rory McIlroy to have limited PGA Tour appearances
June 22, 2011

When Rory McIlroy walked onto the first tee Sunday at the U.S. Open, he briefly acknowledged one golf official and quickly extended his hand to warmly greet two others, USGA executive director Mike Davis and USGA president Jim Hyler.

The first official who got little more than a nod was PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.

That scene was a reminder that while a star was born outside the nation’s capital, McIlroy is only a part-time golfer in America.

McIlroy decided last year not to renew his PGA Tour membership, which required him to play 15 times (including the four majors and three World Golf Championships). He now can play only 10 events a year. The tour amended its policy so The Players Championship would not count against the 10, but McIlroy chose not to play that, either.

There are no hard feelings with the PGA Tour, or with Finchem. The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland simply found himself playing too much golf right about the time the FedEx Cup playoffs got under way in late August, which would be the reason to take up membership in America in the first place.

Still, it leaves the PGA Tour with limited exposure of golf’s new Boy Wonder. And that wouldn’t seem to help as the tour negotiates a new television contract that expires after 2012.

“Rory’s performance in the U.S. Open has generated a lot of interest and a lot of excitement,” PGA Tour spokesman Ty Votaw said Tuesday. “Who knows what the future holds with respect to his membership status.”

There is talk that McIlroy might consider joining the PGA Tour again, although likely not until the 2013 season. Chubby Chandler, his agent at International Sports Management, suggested Sunday evening that McIlroy has “a duty to be over here a little bit more being the Open champion.”

“So I think obviously there’s a good chance that he’ll play a little bit more over here,” Chandler said. “But he won’t play a lot because he can’t do both tours.”

Tour officials likely will bring up its membership policies, as they do just about every year, and decide if anything needs to be changed. One policy that seems to unfairly punish McIlroy is that he is restricted to 10 events (not including The Players) because he gave up his membership, while Martin Kaymer and Alvaro Quiros can play 12 U.S. tour events because they never joined the PGA Tour.

Finchem was an observer in the final group, and after seeing that record-setting performance said it would only help golf.

“Rory’s victory this week creates a lot of interest globally,” Finchem said. “It’s a global game. That’s the way you have to look at it. We’d love to have him play a little bit more, but there’s an integration of tournament and competition—that’s what the fans are into. Candidly, it’s in our interest for the European tour to be very, very strong. So if he’s playing more on the European tour and we have Paul Casey and Luke Donald playing more over here, that’s a good thing.

“So it’s all good,” he said. “There’s no downside to it.”








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