Robert Karlsson admits the chance to play at least one full season on the PGA Tour was an opportunity he didn’t want to turn down and then regret come the end of his career. As a result, the Swede will become a full-fledged PGA Tour rookie at the age of 41 this season, having taken out full membership for the first time.
Karlsson has made numerous short forays across the Atlantic to play in the biggest tournaments previously, but has this year decided to set up home in the United States. He and his family have left Monaco and bought a property in Charlotte, just a short trip away from Quail Hollow.
2011 COMMERCIALBANK QATAR MASTERS
The Qatar Masters marks the first time since 1993 that the world's top two golfers have gone head-to-head in a European Tour event.
Karlsson is looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead, although he is sure to face a hectic schedule as he also plans to maintain full European Tour commitments.
"I joined the U.S. tour because it's something I wanted to do, rather than end my career by not becoming a member and then saying to myself, 'I wish I had at least played one full season in the States'," he stated.
"I got the chance to join having finished runner-up to Lee Westwood last year at the St Jude Classic in Memphis, and I'm really looking forward to the challenge,” he added. "I played a good few tournaments there in 2007, but this year it will be a full 15-event schedule."
Of his choice as Charlotte as his base, he explained: "I was in Charlotte on one of my first visits to America and I liked the city and the region. I'm only 15-20 minutes drive from Quail Hollow and I went there after New Year to play a round so I will add that event to my schedule.
"My schedule this year will be to play the minimum 15 events I have to play in the States and also the 12 or 13 you have to play on the European Tour,” he explained. "My wife and children have moved over and they're very happy with the move from Monaco. Having a base over there is going to be a big plus."
Karlsson, who will defend the title he won 12 months ago at this week's Commercialbank Qatar Masters, revealed that winning a PGA Tour event would be his main goal for the 2011 season.
"Also the problem is that if I did not become a PGA Tour member I would only be entitled as a top-50 world-ranked player to four invites plus the Players Championship," he added. "I want to play more than that in the States, at least for one season, and then depending on how I perform I will reassess it at the end of this year.
"Having gone so close to winning in Memphis, it would be nice to win a PGA Tour event and that's the big goal rather than thinking it might give me a better chance to win the majors by living in America,” he explained. "I'm defending here in Qatar and then playing at the Dubai Desert Classic next week before taking a week off and then starting in the U.S." at the Northern Trust Open at Riviera.