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Page last updated at 12:42 GMT, Wednesday, 19 May 2010 13:42 UK

Rory McIlroy says maiden win vindicates move to US Tour

PGA Championship
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Rory McIlroy
McIlroy sealed his maiden US Tour success at Quail Hollow last month

Rory McIlroy says his decision to join the USPGA Tour was vindicated by his recent success at Quail Hollow.

McIlroy, back in the United Kingdom to play the European PGA Championship at Wentworth, says he feels he "has been accepted" after securing that victory.

"To get that win proved to a lot of people, probably including myself, that it was the right decision," he said.

"I'm excited to be back playing in Europe - it's great playing in America but it's always nice to get back home."

The world number nine surprised some pundits by electing to spend more time in America at the end of last year, but the criticism died down once he recorded his first win there.

McIlroy shot a final round of 10-under-par 62 to land the Quail Hollow Championship three weeks ago, pushing Phil Mickelson into second place, and he says his stunning win has made him feel at home in the United States.

I had lunch with Jack at West Palm Beach earlier this year and he told me to be patient

Rory McIlroy

That win, two days before his 21st birthday, made him the youngest winner on the USPGA Tour since Tiger Woods in 1996 and earned him the respect of the American professionals.

"I struggled at the start of the year and when you go over as a European and you join the Tour sometimes you don't feel part of the Tour until you win or you have been there for a while.

"I haven't played in the UK since October so it's nice to see everyone and come back to familiar surroundings."

McIlroy's success at Quail Hollow provoked a flurry of congratulatory letters from, among others, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Seve Ballesteros.

Ballesteros, who won the Masters at 23, took time out from his recovery after brain surgery to write to the 21-year-old, reminding him of the significance of his win to European golf.

McIlroy has kept the letters that are currently being framed, along with the flag from the 18th hole at Quail Hollow.

He added: "Seve came at it from a European perspective.

"He said 'It is great what you have done, especially to win in the US so early' and he talked about the Ryder Cup and how proud he was of all the young players over here.

"It was a very touching letter and the first one I received.

"He has been going through a difficult time but hopefully we will see him at St Andrews - for him to take time out to write to me was fantastic.

"I had lunch with Jack at West Palm Beach earlier this year and he told me to be patient.

"He said 'I told you to be patient but that was just outrageous' - it was great."

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see also
McIlroy exits from Players event
07 May 10 |  Golf
McIlroy boosted by Portrush round
04 May 10 |  Golf
McIlroy clinches first PGA title
02 May 10 |  Golf
Quiros triumphs as Foster slumps
02 May 10 |  Golf
McIlroy makes a charge at Quail
01 May 10 |  Golf
Woods makes poor start at Quail
29 Apr 10 |  Golf
Clarke jets back after cut chaos
01 May 10 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf

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Times Online Spike Bar: Young guns get fans excited again - 2 hrs ago
Belfast Telegraph Danny Willett's day as McIlroy wilts at Wentworth - 3 hrs ago
Reuters UK Golf-Mickelson eyes Colonial opportunity to dethrone Woods - 3 hrs ago
The Sun Danny Willett is out to trump pal Rory McIlroy - 8 hrs ago
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