Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Rory McIlroy: Claret Jug needs a good clean

Club awaits as Rory jets in after Open triumph

Rory McIlroy with First Minister Peter Robinson and the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont Castle today
Rory McIlroy with First Minister Peter Robinson and the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont Castle today
Rory McIlroy with First Minister Peter Robinson and the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont Castle today
Rory McIlroy with First Minister Peter Robinson and the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Stormont Castle today
Rory McIlroy returns to Northern Ireland to hero's welcome
Winning smile: Rory McIlroy
Rory stepping off a private jet with the Claret Jug in Belfast yesterday
Young golfers at Holywood Golf Club
Holywood Golf Club manager Paul Gray

Open champion Rory McIlory was unable to show off his prized Claret Jug to Northern Ireland's political leaders today, admitting it needed a good clean after a big night out celebrating.

The three-time Major winner grinned as he apologised for turning up empty handed to Stormont Castle in Belfast on the latest leg of his whirlwind victory tour.

Last night the jug took pride of place on the table of an upmarket Belfast nightclub as McIlroy, 25, partied with friends.

But it was nowhere to be seen today as the newly crowned Open winner stopped by for an informal chat with Northern Ireland's First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

"I am sorry I don't have the Claret Jug, it's not going everywhere with me," the golfing superstar said outside Stormont Castle.

"It actually needs a bit of a clean after last night.

"It's an amazing trophy and something that I am obviously very proud of and hopefully there are many more to come."

McIlroy first visited Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness three years ago in the wake of his first Major win - the 2011 US Open. On that occasion Mr McGuinness almost struck one of his advisers with a shanked chip shot on the lawns of Stormont Castle during a photo call.

Perhaps on health and safety grounds, there were no clubs in sight today as the political leaders congratulated the home-grown star from Holywood, Co Down on his Open triumph at Hoylake.

"I am obviously very, very proud and honoured to come back home and come home as an Open champion and to be congratulated by everyone," said McIlroy.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy celebrates winning the 2014 Open Championship with his mum at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy celebrates winning the 2014 Open Championship with his mum at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy kisses the Claret Jug after winning the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.
Rory McIlroy wins the British Open at Hoylake, Liverpool and the members at Holywood Golf Club celebrate.
Fans watch Rory McIlroy win The Open on tv screens at Holywood Golf Course, County Down.
Fans watch Rory McIlroy win The Open on tv screens at Holywood Golf Course, County Down.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy chips out of the bunker on the 18thduring day four of the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy celebrates winning the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy during day four of the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.
Fans watch Rory McIlroy win The Open on tv screens at Holywood Golf Course, County Down.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy lifts the Claret Jug after winning the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.
Fans watch Rory McIlroy win The Open on tv screens at Holywood Golf Course, County Down.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy celebrates with the Claret Jug after winning the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.
Terry Carr, Deirdre McGuigan and Julie Carr enjoy champagne at Holywood Golf Club after their very own Rory McIlroy's victory in the Open. Photo Aidan O'Reilly/Pacemaker Press
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy with the Claret Jug after winning the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake.
Rory McIlroy wins the British Open at Hoylake, Liverpool and the members at Holywood Golf Club celebrate.

"I am very proud to be from Northern Ireland, I am very proud of where I come from and I will never lose touch of that, and I will never lose sight of that - I will never forget where I come from.

"To be able to share these sort of moments with people from back home and close friends and family, it's absolutely wonderful."

Mr Robinson said he hoped McIlroy could complete the Grand Slam of Major wins with victory at the US Masters at Augusta, Georgia next April.

"We are really proud of him," said the Democratic Unionist leader.

"Not only in terms of the achievements of a fantastic golfing career and the competitions he's won but he is a tremendous ambassador for Northern Ireland.

"He gives the kind of messages about Northern Ireland that we want people to hear - a good news story relating to Northern Ireland.

"And apart from all of that he's a thoroughly decent fella."

Mr McGuinness said the Open represented "undoubtedly the greatest prize in world golf".

"It's been absolutely a huge buzz for all of us," said the Sinn Fein veteran.

"We are living in a world now where there's an awful lot of sadness in different parts of the world and this just brings so much happiness and joy to all of the people here that one of our own is seen to be one of the greatest golfers in the world today. No mean achievement by the age of 25 and coming from Holywood in Co Down."

When Mr McGuinness speculated that McIlroy could go on to achieve success on the fairways for 25 or even 40 more years, the young golfer interrupted.

"You should have stopped at 25," he joked.

Further Reading

Rejoice in Rory McIlroy ... everyone knows where he's from

The modest, shy (and very proud) mum who gave Rory his drive 

McIlroy is unable to emulate Tiger's heroics: G-Mac

Major record is there for taking if Rory drives on 

Biting Back: The righteous indignation was overkill 

In feelgood Holywood, everyone's smiling... and youngsters are hitting the golf course  

McIlroy is carving his name onto the pages of history 

A hero returns home, and they all want to see him  

Hoylake links attracts fewer fans than Woods glory 

The Open: Rory McIlroy shows elite sport and relationships just don't mix 

The Open: Rory McIlroy stars in another Holywood blockbuster 

The Open: Fred Daly set standard for Rory to follow, and now he can master Augusta 

Rory McIlroy: From boy to £25m superstar

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