Ministers hail world-beater McIlroy
Published 05/03/2012 | 04:32
Golfer Rory McIlroy has been hailed as the hottest property in the game after he was ranked the sport's world number one.
Tributes poured in from Northern Irish political leaders who have supported the feelgood factor around the region's growing golfing status.
Last year Darren Clarke became Open champion, completing a Northern Ireland hat-trick after US Open wins for McIlroy the same year and Graeme McDowell in 2010.
Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness warmly congratulated McIlroy on reaching his dream so young.
After the sports star's victory in The Honda Classic in Florida, Mr Robinson said: "To have earned this honour at the young age of 22 is truly remarkable and there is no doubting that Rory is a very special talent. Everyone in Northern Ireland is immensely proud of his achievements. His success is well merited and I wish him continued glory."
Mr McGuinness said: "Rory shows a consistency and maturity that belies his young age. When he narrowly missed out on the top spot last week, we knew that Rory would bounce back and he's done that in style over the past four days. He's the hottest property in the game and I congratulate him on today achieving one of his life's ambitions."
The ministers also, meanwhile, congratulated Antrim's Mark Allen on winning snooker's World Open title in China, his first ranking tournament win.
Celebrations for Clarke's win last year saw him joined by McIlroy and McDowell at a party at his local Royal Portrush club, which it was later announced is to hold the 2012 Irish Open. The tournament was attracted as part of a major push in Northern Ireland to capitalise on the potential of the region's crop of world beating golfers.
Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin congratulated McIlroy and his colleagues after the recent years of success. She said: "It's wonderful that golfers from Ireland are top of the world rankings. To have a golfer from the north of Ireland as the best player in the world is truly remarkable."
Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said: "Our local golfers continue to amaze the rest of the world with their achievements. For Rory to be crowned world number one at such a young age is remarkable and his success will only strengthen the global interest in golf tourism in Northern Ireland."