Without sounding ridiculous, said Chubby Chandler, McIlroys agent and advisor to Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Paul McGinley and Lee Westwood, I honestly believe he (McIlroy) has a chance of making next years Ryder Cup team.
McIlroy burst on the world golf scene this summer by firing an opening 68 at Carnoustie and finishing T42 as an amateur at the Open Championship. After the recent Walker Cup matches he turned professional and quickly won enough money to secure his 2008 playing privileges on the European Tour.
McIlroy came third at the recent Dunhill Links Championship and followed that with a T4 Sunday at the Madrid Open. If he finishes second or better at this weeks Portuguese Open, he will move into the top 60 on Europes Order of Merit and will qualify for the season-ending Volvo Masters at Valderrama.
Two Mondays ago McIlroy purchased what the Irish Independent newspaper labeled a luxury five-bedroom detached house not far from his family home in Holywood. This was not long after signing endorsement contracts worth more than a million dollars.
I came into a bit of money, McIlroy told the Independent. I will be in it (the house) by Halloween and hopefully have it done up by Christmas.
I dont plan on learning to cook, McIlroy added. Holly (his girlfriend) will be around to do that, hopefully.
RAT PACK REDUX:
The players were happy to learn that the Frys.com Open will scale back its involvement with amateur players next year and take place at just one venue, the TPC Summerlin.
In the past this Las Vegas event has taken place at multiple venues with multi-round involvement with amateurs.
Next year there will be a little more involvement with celebrities, says tournament director Ian Knight, who used to work for the PGA TOURs Golf Course Properties Division.
Specifically, Knight is looking to recruit 11 big name celebrities and give the Wednesday Pro-Am an Oceans 11 feel that hearkens back to the day of original Las Vegas Rat Packers Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.
Big names, Knight says.
Much of this stems from the tournaments increased involvement with the local Shriners Hospital. It will be more of a pure event now, Knight says.
The Fall Series event to be played at Disney World, however, will keep its format. Tournament director Kevin Weickel said Wednesday, Disney is all about big dreams and magic.
So the amateurs will still play with the pros on Thursday and Friday. We expect to keep this format for many, many years, Weickel said.
This weeks Frys Electronics Open at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale is looking for another venue for 2008.
It was originally scheduled to take place next year at the The Institute Course in Morgan Hill, Calif., near San Jose.
But sources said earlier this week that the timing isnt right yet for The Institute Course to host the event. There have also been issues with environmentalists and officials at The Institute Course.
Next years site will be announced sooner rather than later, said a Frys official. But theres no timetable.
There has been a buzz surrounding The Institute Course ever since it was built because it lists its back tees at 7.952 yards. It can be stretched past 8,000 yards. And to date, no TOUR event has taken place on a track that long.
By way of perspective, if the par-3s average 200 yards and the par-5s average 600 yards, the par-4s would have to average 480 yards for a course to stretch out to 8,000 yards.
Speaking of long, Erin Hills near Milwaukee is 8,266 yards from the back blacks. The public course, which opened in August of 2006, carries a slope 152 and a course rating of 79.9.
Its a different style of golf, says assistant pro Chris Kaebisch. Different, indeed. From the back blacks, Erin Hills boasts six par-4s longer than 500 yards, including two weighing in at 535.
The USGA has paid several visits to Erin Hills. And there is speculation that they could bring a U.S. Amateur there as early as 2011 and a U.S. Open as early as 2017.
USGA course set-up guy Mike Davis was at Erin Hills last week and told me if a U.S. Open was played at Erin Hills tomorrow it would probably card out at closer to 7,600 yards. Its a site we continue to look at, Davis said.
Next years U.S. Womens Amateur Public Links will take place at Erin Hills. The tees for that event will be closer to 6,000 yards.
Erin Hills also has a 19th hole that is actually a golf hole. It stretches the course, for 19 holes, to 8,420 yards. A group of local club pros recently played Erin Hills from 8,420 yards in a one-day event to a par of 75 for the 19 holes. The low score was 80.
The design team for Erin Hills was Michael Hurdzan, Dana Fry and Golf Digest architecture editor Ron Whitten. The course recently showed up on Golfweeks Best list of courses that opened in 2005-2007.