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Moving Stateside a logical progression for Rory McIlroy, insist fellow Ulstermen

By Frank Brownlow

Rory McIlroy last night received widespread backing from the Northern Ireland professional golfing fraternity for his decision to play more in the United States.

The 22-year-old US Open champion has said that he intends to set up base in Florida for his full-blown assault on the PGA Tour.

European Tour Director David Jones, from Bangor, and a former touring professional himself, feels that it is simply inevitable that, as US Open champion, McIlroy will be playing more golf in the States.

“The Americans are desperate to get the Europeans over there because they are the best and most charismatic players — and Rory would be the top draw,” said Jones.

“Rory has already won twice in America so his decision is based on commercial interests and ambition. You can’t blame him for that.

“We are really looking at a world tour at the moment and Rory is a world player.

“The top players travel in their private jets — so being based in Europe or America doesn’t matter that much.

“Chubby Chandler will obviously be looking to maximise Rory’s potential and make the most of opportunities in America where he is a huge star.

“It’s not a case of off goes Rory and we’re never going to see him again. He will still support the European Tour.

“It’s not as if we are ‘losing’ Rory. This is a natural progression for him.

“The balance of his life might be slanted a bit more towards America. He is going to change his focus a bit.”

And Jones is sure events surrounding the Open have played their part.

“He has taken this decision over a short space of time.

“There was an outrageous amount of hype and hoopla about his participation in the Open.

“That didn’t help Rory and things never really happened for him at the Open.

“Everybody is looking Rory now, particularly in the absence of Tiger Woods.

“I think when Rory complained about the weather at the Open he was just caught on the hop after his round,” he said.

McIlroy’s fellow Ulster professional Gareth Maybin, who is currently making a name for himself on the European Tour, believes the Holywood player’s game is ideally suited to most American courses.

“It’s a fairer test and being as good as Rory is, the States will be perfect for him.

“But Rory’s good enough to play in any conditions — he can adapt his game to anything.

“He’ll perform even better in America under the conditions out there.

“The top players have a choice of where they want to play — they can determine their own schedule.

“Rory is one of a handful of players who can do that,” said Maybin.

Royal Portrush’s head professional Gary McNeill thinks America could be the land of opportunity for ‘Wee Mac’.

“Rory is a great young fella and this is the beginning of an exciting journey for him,” said McNeill.

“Maybe his relationship with the tennis player is something he’s thinking about as well.”

He added: “Maybe that’s why he wants to make a bit of a break away from Northern Ireland, a fresh start.”

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