McIlroy leans toward PGA Tour membership for ’12

Rory McIlroy

AKRON, Ohio – U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy dropped a bit of a bombshell Wednesday when he said near the end of his WGC Bridgestone Invitational news conference that he is “leaning toward” taking his PGA Tour card again in 2012.

The Northern Ireland native, last a Tour member in 2010, said he would look at potential U.S. residences after next week’s PGA Championship. He said he would explore Orlando’s Lake Nona development, where his friend and fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell lives, and the West Palm Beach, Fla., area.

“Most of my favorite events are on this side of the pond,” McIlroy said.

He acknowledged his recent breakup with his Northern Ireland girlfriend factors in, too. Asked what else influenced him, McIlroy said, “Probably the Open.”

His U.S. Open victory at Congressional?

“No, the weather,” he said, smiling.

That was a reference to his comments after the British Open that he didn’t like playing in inclement weather at Royal St. George’s.

McIlroy said Wednesday that he made his comments about disliking the weather while frustrated, adding, “If I had to do it again, I probably would’ve said something different.”

McIlroy has until late November, or 30 days after the completion of the final Tour event Oct. 23, to decide whether to rejoin the U.S. Tour. If he does, he would be required to play at least 15 tournaments here next year.

“He’s a talented, personable young man who would be an asset to us,” said Tour operations chief Andy Pazder, who met with McIlroy here Wednesday. “To have him as a member would be very beneficial.”

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