Rory McIlroy has revealed that the PGA of America has sought his opinion as it considers moving the final Major of the season outside the United States.
The discussion shows the seriousness with which the US game's governing body views the possibility as it emerged that the US PGA Championship could be held at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland any time from 2020.
Irish golf has earned global recognition thanks to the Major championship success of McIlroy, Graeme McDowell and, earlier, Pádraig Harrington.
"I have spoken to Ted Bishop [the PGA of America's president] and spoken to Pete Bevacqua [the chief executive] about this," McIlroy said.
“They approached me about it a few months ago. I would be all for it. They said it is obviously quite a long way down the road, maybe 10 years or so. But I would love to be able to play a Major at home.”
Portrush last hosted a Major, the Open, in 1951. The Royal & Ancient has touted the possibility of that tournament’s return to the Northern Irish links without ever appearing to be fully convinced.
The 2012 Irish Open was held at the course in the north of Antrim and deemed a roaring success, but this summer saw further social unrest in Northern Ireland, a matter that cannot and will not be ignored.
McIlroy clarified that Irish venues in general had been the topic of his discussion rather than specifically Portrush.
“They are very forward-thinking,” he said.
“The US Open, the Open and the Masters can’t really go elsewhere but they are thinking of moving the PGA Championship around a little bit. I think it is a great thing for the growth of the game globally.
"I think Ted has always liked Ireland as a venue. Having the Irish Open at Portrush had a huge impact. Everyone saw how well it was supported. So if they had five years or 10 to prepare, it could be massive."
Earlier Bishop, speaking in the United States, said: “Royal Portrush would be a great first international Major. I think given the powerful effect that Irish golfers have on the professional game today, that might be a good place to start.”
There was further, unsurprising support for the plan from McDowell. “I heard that the US PGA Championship was looking to go global, which I think is a very positive step forward,” he said. “I think to have three Major championships in America, with the global nature of the game nowadays, is a little too heavy-weighted.
"Royal Portrush – it has always been a dream of mine to play the Open Championship there. The PGA would do nicely.
"It's a very bizarre, a very amazing statement [from Bishop]. I was expecting it to be Asia. But exciting, exciting times. If it never comes to fruition, it is still a great boost for everyone in that area just to be mentioned in that breath."
More immediate matters concern McIlroy playing himself into contention at the DP World Tour Championship thanks to yesterday's 67
Yet the world No6 is still six shots adrift as he and the rest will have to go some to prevent the European Tour's finale from turning into a procession by Henrik Stenson. The Swede did not drop a shot, moving to 12-under par with a superb 64. He leads Alejandro Canizares by one and is now within touching distance of the European Tour's order of merit.
“I have had two good days,” said Stenson. “I hope I can deliver another two.”
Justin Rose is the best placed to usurp the Swede. He signed for a second-round 67, which leaves him seven-under. Ian Poulter has tied Rose's aggregate, while there was a more promising day for Luke Donald, who had 66 for a five-under total. Graeme McDowell is four under following a 68 yesterday while Shane Lowry is two under after a second consecutive 71.
Masters champion Adam Scott moved to the top of the leaderboard at the halfway mark of the Australian
Masters at Royal Melbourne but he has Nathan Holman for company at nine under par. A week after claiming the
Australian PGA Championship, Scott began with three consecutive birdies and recorded a 66 to join Holman who shot a six under 65 to move to minus nine, one ahead of both fellow Victorian Matthew Griffin, who likewise shot 65, and Nick Cullen (69). Three shots further adrift is American Matt Kuchar who shot a 66.