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Rory McIlroy: I feel at home in the US

By Karl MacGinty

Rory McIlroy has explained why he's going to take up residence in the US next year and make his $10.9m pad in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, his permanent home.

He gave the inside story on the new driver which will put him back on the glory trail; exposes a significant problem with his pitching wedge and admits to an annoying flaw in his putting.

All of this and much more arose in conversation with Tiger Woods when two of the world's most exciting golfers were wired for sound during their 'Match at Mission Hills' in Haikou, China.

Any doubts about one's sanity at getting up at 03.45am to watch the live streaming of this 18 holes exhibition on You Tube were dispelled within moments.

The unbridled nature of their conversation hit home even as the two golfers walked to the first tee and McIlroy made reference to his playing companion in Shanghai last Sunday, Padraig Harrington.

Initially, the 24-year-old chuckled as he recalled how he and Tiger took just four and a half hours to play 36 friendly holes together at his local club, The Medalist, in South Florida last spring.

"I've never seen anyone playing as fast as you that day," McIlroy went on.

"You hate slow play, don't you," Tiger responded. "On the Tour, you play fast."

"I do hate slow play," McIlroy insisted, adding: "I played with Harrington yesterday!" The strident voice of a Chinese interpreter made it difficult to decipher precisely what he said next but it wasn't flattering.

"Oh," Tiger offered. "You know he (Harrington) has gotten better too, though."

"Yeah, I know but it's like 'just make the decision and hit the shot," Rory said. "Anyway, you don't have to worry about that today."

It wasn't easy listening at times as Tiger, suffering with an awful cold and plainly feverish, snuffled, snorted and coughed-up phlegm, while repeatedly asking caddie Joey LaCava to pass him a lozenge.

More delicate souls perhaps were outraged by the 'f-bombs' Woods dropped yesterday but, to the average golfer, his off-colour vocabulary fell well short of what's euphemistically described as 'industrial language' in football.

Woods reportedly was paid $2m and McIlroy $1.5m for their day's work, which was free to view on the interne.

A six-under par 67 gave the Northern Irishman a one stroke win over the World No 1, who was rusty after a complete two weeks break. McIlroy also beat Woods by one shot in a similar event at Lake Jinsha last October.

Albeit an exhibition, this is McIlroy's first win in an intensely frustrating year. It was achieved in morale-boosting fashion as he played the back nine on the Blackstone Course in a stellar six-under ... watch out for him at the HSBC Champions this week.

As Woods complained of being uncomfortable with the enlarged 460cc head on the new Covert driver, McIlroy said "from the moment I first started hitting it (in July) I thought it was awesome.

"It's just a little more forgiving," he added. "Like I can hit it off the toe or the heel and it's tight.

"I felt the last one, I was losing it to the right a lot but with this one, the clubface squares-up better at impact. As a result, I'm driving the ball much better, much straighter."

McIlroy, who sold his home in Moneyreagh, Co Down, and supplied an address in Monaco with his recent submission to Commerical Court, said of his decision to set up home in the US in 2014:

"I'm done with hopping around the world.

"Next year, I want to feel I have a home (base) somewhere. On the off weeks I actually want to go (to my) home," he explained. Heartily agreeing, Woods intoned: "I have to let a little air out of my career too. I travel too much."

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