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Sunday 19 August 2018

Holywood hotshot to shun Tour 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.

But unless the rules change, the 22-year-old from Northern Ireland is expected to decline it -- 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.



Love

"I love being from Northern Ireland," he said.

"I tell everyone how great it is. For me it's the best place on earth."

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

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

"I think it starts with the people," added McIlroy.

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

Chandler added: "He is a good figurehead for the sport.

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

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