Win earns McIlroy PGA exemption

Among the many spin-offs from Rory McIlroy’s amazing US Open victory is a five-year exemption onto the PGA Tour in America.

Among the many spin-offs from Rory McIlroy’s amazing US Open victory is a five-year exemption onto the PGA Tour in America.

But unless the rules change the 22-year-old from Holywood is expected to decline – he likes Europe too much and does not want to suffer burn-out.

“He may play a few more, but I don’t think he will play 15 – that’s difficult,” said manager Andrew Chandler, whose stable also includes the current Open and Masters champions Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel.

The two South Africans did join the circuit in the States following their victories, but McIlroy handed in his membership at the end of last season after playing 16 events.

World number two Lee Westwood, also managed by Chandler, is not a member either and both he and McIlroy stayed away from the PGA Tour’s flagship Players Championship last month.

Golf’s newest major winner, also the hottest property in the sport right now, spoke after his runaway eight-shot success about his feelings for his home country.

“I love being from Northern Ireland,” he said.

“I tell everyone how great it is. For me it’s the best place on earth – I’m obviously biased, but I love it back there and I love the people.”

It is also the country, of course, that can now boast the last two US Open champions. While McIlroy is from Holywood in Co Down, Graeme McDowell is from Portrush on the north coast.

And their triumphs have followed the three majors in two years by Dubliner Padraig Harrington.

“I think it starts with the people,” added McIlroy.

“Golf is very accessible and there are obviously a lot of great golf courses.

“A big help to me growing up was the Golfing Union of Ireland, enabling me to go and play in different places in the world, learn about different conditions, different cultures, which really prepared me for coming out on Tour.

“To see obviously what Padraig did in ’07 and ’08, seeing Graeme win this trophy last year and then me, Irish golf is obviously in a very healthy state at the moment.”

Chandler admitted in April there were problems to solve when McIlroy closed The Masters with an 80 from four in front.

But when he went to the youngster’s house 10 days later he found somebody who was wondering what all the fuss was about.

He has had putting help from American Dave Stockton since, chatted to Jack Nicklaus about winning and also decided on the need to chat more to caddie JP Fitzgerald on the course.

“At Augusta they didn’t work as a team at all,” stated Chandler.

McIlroy added: “Even if it’s not about golf having a conversation about something completely different is probably the best thing for me because it takes my mind off it.

“That was a huge thing I learnt at Augusta and it seemed to work out for me.”

There are fortunes to be made at this level, of course, and Chandler also said that bonuses were already written into the four main contracts that McIlroy has.

He will be even more in demand the world over now, but Chandler said: “I think he is a pretty good figurehead for the sport right now.

“Just like Seve (Ballesteros) was Spanish but everybody took to him so Rory’s Irish but everybody takes to him.

“He plays a similar game to Seve too – but straighter!”

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