Belfast Telegraph

Rory McIlroy: Sorry I don't have the Claret Jug, it's getting a bit of a clean-up after a night out in Belfast

By Nevin Farrell

Rory McIlroy has been celebrating hard - and with good reason.

But it seems McIlroy is weathering the festivities better than the Open's emblematic Claret Jug which had to take a break yesterday after a heavy night out.

The Holywood golf star looked a little empty-handed as he turned up at Stormont to join the first ministers and speak of his incredible win at Hoylake.

"Sorry I don't have the Claret Jug," he explained to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. "It is not going everywhere with me, it is getting a bit of a clean-up after last night."

Perhaps conscious that as custodian of one of the world's most recognisable pieces of sporting silverware, he quickly added: "It is an amazing trophy and something I am obviously very proud of and hopefully there will be many more to come."

The 'last night' the 25-year-old referred to was a party held at Ollie's nightclub in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.

A casually-dressed McIlroy was pictured sitting at a reserved table in the VIP section – with a drink in his hand and clearly enjoying his night with a gang of friends.

It could have been any group of young lads on a night out, sitting round a table crammed with bottles of beer and cans of Red Bull – all except for the distinctive outline of the Claret Jug taking pride of place in the middle.

The Belfast festivities took place the night after Rory enjoyed a private knees-up with his family and friends in Liverpool, just hours after he clinched the title. He was pictured coming out of the Empire Club in the city with a mystery brunette beauty just a few paces in front. There was speculation that the young woman looked like Dublin model Nadia Forde (25) who is rumoured to be dating McIlroy. Both Rory and Nadia have denied any relationship.

On an RTE radio show yesterday, McIlroy gave a snapshot of his celebrations and confirmed that the Claret Jug has been filled with both Jagermeister and Champagne – thankfully on separate occasions.

He said: "It's a funny story. Obviously with all the media engagements you have to do after you win, it seems that my friends and family started without me.

"I wasn't the first to drink out of it. We put some good, expensive stuff in it and that's how it'll stay from now on." McIlroy became just the third man in the modern era after Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus to win three Majors by the age of 25 and is now back up to second in the world rankings.

"It's been a crazy week and is only just beginning to sink in. To be 25 and have three of the four Majors and have the chance to win number four at Augusta, it's an incredible point of my career," he said.

McIlroy may not have been wearing his trademark Nike baseball cap yesterday but he was kitted out in Nike clothing and trainers, which were stylishly left untied.

But there are some things even this star cannot do and that includes getting agreement between the DUP and Sinn Fein in the Stormont government.

However, First Minister Peter Robinson suggested Rory could help smooth things out, joking: "I want to cancel all the rumours that he is here asking Martin and I to sort out the June monitoring round, but I suspect if he put his hand to that he would succeed in doing that as well."

Yesterday's photoshoot steered clear of the stage-managed golf shots seen back in 2011 when Rory called in to Stormont after winning the US Open. Mr McGuinness almost struck one of his advisers with a shanked chip shot. Perhaps on health and safety grounds, there were no clubs in sight yesterday.

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