Rory McIlroy profile

Rory McIlroy’s uplifting US Open victory could mark the start of a legendary career.

Most superlatives fall short of describing Rory McIlroy’s success this summer. In brief, a 22-year old Holywood man became the youngest US Open champion since 1923 and the second in as many years from Northern Ireland. “Proud to be a champion,” he tweeted.

He set four new scoring records:

• 268 for the lowest 72-hole total (65- 66-68-69), achieved at 16 under par;

• 199 for the lowest 54-hole total (65- 66-68);

• 131 for the lowest 36-hole total (65- 66); and

• the lowest score to par at any point in a US Open (17 under).

The scale of his achievement to date cannot be doubted. He follows in Graeme McDowell’s footsteps and, in that champion’s words, is “potentially the next Tiger Woods.” After the frenzy of celebration, a cooler Jack Nicklaus said: “He has won one major. When he starts to win two, three or four [majors], then you can say he’s the guy we’ve got to watch. Period.”

Nicklaus does think that’s possible, describing McIlroy as a “talented young man we’re going to see on the scene for a long time.”

On that momentous Father’s Day, his dad Gerry praised his “fantastic” son who had made an “unbelievable” turnaround. Dropping out of the Masters in April was a major setback but a resilient return to form left his rivals behind.

Speaking at Holywood Golf Club, McIlroy appreciated that expectations were high, not only as a golfer but a role model for other young people. “I have always been a big dreamer. I have had always had very high hopes and expectations,” he said of himself.

At his old school, Sullivan Upper, he recalled: “All I wanted to do was play golf and by the time I was 15 or 16, that that was the path I was going to take.” With the trophy by his side, he surmised: “I can’t really settle on that. I want to go and achieve more.”

Going forward, McIlroy can count on strong support from local golf fans who will hope this is just the start of even greater things to come.

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