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But the announcement over the weekend that the World Cup was going to Royal Melbourne this fall under a new format piqued his interest.

Northern Ireland, for the first time, can field its own team.

“That might change things a little bit,” McIlroy said before leaving the TPC Sawgrass.

Graeme McDowell certainly hopes so.

“I need my partner in crime in Melbourne,” he said. “Regardless whether Rory wants to play or not, I want to play this year. If it works, I’d like him to be there, as well. But we’ll see.”

McDowell spoke before he was aware of the change in format, and that Northern Ireland can choose to have its own team.

Padraig Harrington smiled when told that Northern Ireland could have its own team. “It suits me,” he said. Harrington is the highest-ranked player from Ireland.

The $8 million purse will be divided with $7 million of it for the individual competition (which also provides world ranking points) and $1 million for the team. It will be stroke play, combining the scores of the two-man teams. The field will be capped at 60 players. Countries are allowed no more than four players _ provided the additional two are inside the top 15 in the world _ but the two players with the highest ranking will be the team. If the cutoff were now, and everyone wanted to play, Tiger Woods and Brandt Snedeker (No. 5) would represent the United States in the team competition.

Players and countries are selected from the world ranking until the 60-man field is set. There likely will be no more than about 18 teams.

Perhaps the strangest part of this World Cup? Royal Melbourne will hold two events in successive weeks. The Australian Masters will be Nov. 14-17, followed by the World Cup of Golf on Nov. 21-24.

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OPEN AND OUT: Louis Oosthuizen isn’t making big plans to see Merion ahead of the U.S. Open because he’s not sure he will be there. His wife, Nel-Mare, is expecting their third child on the Saturday of the tournament.

In a perfect world, she will have the baby the weekend before.

“But if it’s during the U.S. Open, I won’t play,” Oosthuizen said. “If it’s Monday and she hasn’t gone into labor, I probably won’t go. When the doctor said the date, I looked at the calendar and said, `Wow. Well done.’ But family is more important.”

His other two children were born in December and February, so the South African hasn’t had to cope with babies born around the majors.

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