Importance of McIlroy playing the PGA Tour

JOHNS CREEK, GA - AUGUST 09: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits a tee shot during a practice round prior to the start of the 93rd PGA Championship at the Atlanta Athletic Club on August 9, 2011 in Johns Creek, Georgia. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

If Rory McIlroy indeed rejoins the PGA Tour next year full time, it could be the beginning of something the tour has needed for years now -- the end of the Tiger Tour.

The Tiger Tour goes like this: He plays the same events every year, about 16 or 17. If he plays, it matters. If he doesn’t, it doesn’t.

OK, that tour theory should have taken a beating as Woods is currently riding a non-winning streak closing in on two full calendar years.

But instead of watching someone named Hennie Otto (that was Tiger’s playing partner Sunday at the Bridgestone – Otto, by the way, shot a lower score) fumble his way around the course, fans watched all of Tiger’s bogeys (too many) and birdies (three in the last four holes) to finish a mere 18 shots back.

Eighteen shots back. When you finish that badly and get featured all over the Sunday telecast, it’s your tour.

However, if McIlroy, the budding star who lapped the field at the U.S. Open, comes to play full-time in the states, Tiger’s grip on the tour may never be the same.

Gary Potosky