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Homesick McIlroy turns his back on PGA Tour

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy will not join the U.S. PGA Tour for 2011, saying he enjoys his time in Europe too much.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the first hole during the second round of the WGC-HSBC Champions golf tournament in Shanghai November 5, 2010. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The 21-year-old told reporters he no longer wanted to play the mandatory number of tournaments required in the States and joins world No. 1 Lee Westwood in rejecting the card to stay in Europe.

“Sometimes you feel as though you have to be in America just to play the mandatory 15 and, at the start of this year, that was something I really wanted to do,” he said.

“I did that, but I also realized it wasn’t for me but then it doesn’t mean to say that I don’t want to play full time in the States again.”

The world number nine was in Singapore on Monday for a corporate outing but was heading home to Ireland for a week’s break rather than contest the Singapore Open starting on Thursday.

McIlroy’s manager, Andrew Chandler, sought a meeting with U.S. PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem last Sunday night straight after the HSBC Champions prize-giving ceremony.

McIlroy had been considering the decision since September, when he was watching TV coverage from the States of the Omega European Masters in Switzerland, an event he almost won in 2008.

“I found myself in America... especially in the FedEx Cup play-off series, just not wanting to be there, especially on the golf course,” said McIlroy.


“I switched on the Golf Channel and began watching the Omega European Masters in Switzerland and thinking to myself I would rather be there instead.

“It would be easier if I had a place in the States and that would definitely make it easier to play both Tours.

“Besides, with the Majors and the WGCs, plus a few other events such as my defense of the Wells Fargo Championship (formerly Quail Hollow Championship) I will still play 11 or 12 there next year, and I will be happy with that.”

It was a year ago when McIlroy revealed during the UBS Hong Kong Open he would be taking up 2010 membership of the game’s greatest money-making tour.

McIlroy said his decision had also been slightly based on a recent European Tour decision to increase the number of events to retain automatic membership to 13 from next season.

“I had made my mind up before the new decision you have to play 13 but that does make it more difficult,” he said.

“But as I mentioned, I don’t have a base in the States and besides I enjoy my time too much back at home.

“Holly (his girlfriend) also has another two years at Uni’ and we have two dogs, a nice house and I love my life back in Ireland, back in Europe and I don’t want ever to give that up.

“But if I keep playing the way I have been playing, I will get all the invitations I need.

“Also after playing the Ryder Cup, I got a great sense of the camaraderie out there, and I got to know many of the European guys a lot better.

“The thing is that if you are playing well in the States it’s a great place to be but if you’re not it can be a lonely place.

“Whereas if you are not playing well on the European Tour you still have plenty of mates to hang out with.”

Editing by Ossian Shine