McIlroy: 'I've had security at my house every night since the US Open'
Rory McIlroy appeared on an American breakfast show yesterday to confirm to an ecstatic audience that he would be taking up his US Tour membership next year and will be buying property in the States.
But what remained unsaid was one of the unsettling factors for the switch. Northern Ireland's adoration for their favourite son has proved all too claustrophobic.
"It is part of the reason, yes," said the 22-year-old. "I have had security guards at my house every night since I won the US Open patrolling around the area. It is something that I just had to put in place I'm afraid. There have been people driving up the driveway and stuff which isn't very nice. It's tough but it is just the world we live in unfortunately. If you're in the position we're in you're so public."
Life has changed for McIlroy since he won the US Open in record style. If his profile was raised dramatically in America then in his homeland the roof blew off. Where once Holywood, the Belfast suburb he has lived in all his life, had been his sanctuary, now it became a goldfish bowl. No escape, little privacy.
"It's definitely a lot tougher than it was three months ago," said McIlroy. "There are moments when you think, 'what's happening here, what's going on?' But this is always what I wanted to do. When you grow up and dream of being a professional golfer and dream of winning majors, all you really think about is the golf and playing in front of great crowds on unbelievable courses, winning trophies. You never think about the other side of it and that is the side that takes a bit of getting used to. It is also something that you don't really expect."
His burgeoning relationship with Caroline Wozniacki, the Danish tennis player, has inevitably meant the lenses point ever more intrusively. "It's just something I'm just going to have to deal with," he said. There is no doubt McIlroy's U-turn (he quit the US Tour after just one season last November) has plenty to do with the realisation the courses suit him in the US, but don't underestimate the influence his "changed circumstances" had on his decision. He broke up with Holly Sweeney, his childhood sweetheart, before the Open and the split was apparently acrimonious.
Yesterday, McIlroy was here in Atlanta having a meeting with his manager, Chubby Chandler, and his father, Gerry. Ostensibly the sit-down was to discuss next season's schedule, although McIlroy had clearly already made up his mind on that score. "I am going to take up my PGA Tour card next season," he said. "It's something I really want to do." Interestingly, he will not be joining his great friend Graeme McDowell in Lake Nona, the gated community in Orlando. It may even come to pass that the Ulstermen cross each other going in opposite directions. McDowell is considering moving permanently back to Europe.
"I'm leaning towards going a little further south than Orlando, maybe to West Palm," said McIlroy. "It's not far away but it's nice and I practise quite a lot at the Bear's Club when I'm over here so it would be good to have that facility. It would be nice just to have somewhere to put all your stuff when you're over here for three or four months. I'm not looking at anything aside from an apartment or something like that, nothing big."
But there will be tax implications and like Ian Poulter and others he may soon be seduced by the benefits of residing permanently in America. All in all, this is worrying news for the European Tour. They have lost him exclusively and will now understandably fear for the future. In truth, McIlroy, the favourite for the USPGA, is not looking further than this week's major at the Atlanta Athletic Club. "I'm playing well. I'm really happy with the way I'm hitting it and driving it a lot better than I have done the last couple weeks," said McIlroy after his tie for sixth in Akron hurtled him back into the world's top four.
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