When do you think Rory McIlroy last paid a green fee? And how much did he spend?

SAN FRANCISCO – Rory McIlroy, if need be, would gladly pay a green fee to play TPC Harding Park, a pure municipal golf course that is hosting the 102nd PGA Championship but is open to one and all.

“I think it’s very important,” the four-time major winner said about a public course hosting a major championship. “I’ve always said that golf, everywhere in the world, but I think especially in the United States, it can become more accessible still, and I think bringing the biggest tournaments in the world to public courses is a step in the right direction.

“We’re always going to go to private courses because some of the private courses are some of the best in the world, and they’re courses that test the top players.

“But at the same time, it’s very refreshing that we do come to places like here, Bethpage (in New York), Torrey Pines (in San Diego). It is important to let the public see us on golf courses that they’ve played before, that are accessible for them, that aren’t too expensive to get on.”

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McIlroy, who has won tens of millions of dollars around the world, including more than $52 million on the PGA Tour, can certainly afford the green fee at TPC Harding Park, which is home to two courses. A round of golf will run anywhere from $85 to $200, with specials and twilight rates available at times.

But the last time McIlroy paid for a green fee was back when the former world No. 1 and winner of 28 professional titles was a teenager.

“Valderrama, 2005,” McIlroy said. “250 Euros.”

That’s about $375 today.

But it was worth it to play the club that has hosted two different European Tour events, two World Golf Championships events won by Tiger Woods and Mike Weir in 1999 and 2000, and the 1997 Ryder Cup won by Europe.

“I’ve always liked the look at Valderrama,” McIlroy explained his decision to pay to play. “I was in Spain. Obviously Ryder Cup course. The Tour Championship of the European Tour was there for a lot of years. I was there and spent a few months’ worth of pocket money to go and play.”

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