Rory McIlroy is making unexpected preparations to spend more time in England after previously stating he saw his life in the United States.
According to reports in the Global Golf Post, McIlroy is planning to buy a property in London or Wentworth to use as a base between May and October.
The news is surprising given the conviction with which McIlroy has spoken about preferring life on the other side of the Atlantic - his wife Erica is American - and raises the prospect of the four-time major champion playing more European Tour events.
"I have an American wife. I live in America,” McIlroy said on the subject earlier this year. “Honestly, I enjoy it here more. The way of life is easier. The weather. The convenience.”
McIlroy currently resides near the Bear’s Club in West Palm Beach, Florida in a house formerly owned by Ernie Els. His drift away from the European Tour appeared to be hastening when he criticised the “easy” course set-ups at this year’s Scottish Open and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
“I’m sort of honestly sick of coming back over to the European Tour and shooting 15 under par and finishing 30th,” was McIlroy’s assessment after the Dunhill Links, comments he now accepts were “mis-placed” at a tournament catering for amateurs.
On a low-scoring first day at the Turkish Airlines Open, Tyrrell Hatton revealed he has required six-monthly steroid injections and regular painkillers to deal with a wrist injury caused by a freak accident at the 2017 Masters.
Hatton looked in fine fettle at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal in Belek where he opened with a four-under par 68, only to disclose his long battle with injury after the round.
The Englishman slipped on pine straw at Augusta National and collided with a steel bar and will undergo keyhole surgery when his season ends after the DP Tour Championship in Dubai.
“It is such a relief to know there is finally an end in sight to all this, because it has been getting a lot worse this past year,” Hatton said.
“I felt a jolt of pain when I put my hand out after I slipped on the pine straw and saw I’d landed on a steel bar, but it didn’t bother me during the Masters itself.
“But a couple of weeks later I could hardly hit a fifty yard chip shot without being in agony, although the advice I was given was that it would right itself in time. That proved a million miles off the mark!”
What looked like being a frustrating opening round for defending champion Justin Rose was ultimately a satisfying one, after a birde-birdie-birdie finish left him just two shots behind early pacesetters Tom Lewis and Matthias Schwab who sit at seven-under.
Rose can become the first player since 2000 to win the same European Tour title three years in succession but was frank about his struggles for recent form, joking that the amateurs in his Wednesday pro-am group would not have taken many of his attempts.
The precise approach play and consistent ball-striking for which Rose is admired has not always been present this season, but that has enabled the more daring and artistic facets of his game to flourish.
A chip-in eagle at the par five 11th looked like being the highlight of Rose’s Thursday, until he turned an errant tee shot into a birdie at the 17th, threading his second below one tree canopy and over another.
“I feel like I'm not exactly where I need to be, but it's important - you don't always have to be,” Rose said.
“Give the game six out of ten today. 67 is a better score than six out of ten, so I feel like I've done a good day's work.”
Alex Noren, Thomas Pieters and David Lipsky sit between Rose and the leaders at six-under par, while Danny Willett continued his resurgent 2019 to match Rose’s 67.