Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Billy on the Box: Rory McIlroy was no chicken down Maryland way

US Open Champion 2011 Rory McIlroy returns to Hollywood Golf Club
US Open Champion 2011 Rory McIlroy returns to Hollywood Golf Club
US Open Champion 2011 Rory McIlroy returns to Hollywood Golf Club

Apparently, and whisper this quietly, some young fella from Holywood did quite well at the weekend in some golf tournament.

That is a slight understatement. And while there were less golf balls flying about Maryland than in the Short Strand of late, a youngster let loose among grown-ups was wreaking havoc. And his dad just stood by and watched.

Okay, can we just get it straight. Rory McIlroy is 22, not 12. Yes, he’s young but at no stage at the Congressional Country Club did Gerry Kelly turn up on the 18th green and invite the wee lad to chip balls into a tumble dryer. Lee Westwood took up the challenge but was beaten by a kettle.

Sky were also in their element. A British winner rescued from the misery of being an Irish loser just a few weeks ago and commentator after commentator taking the opportunity to pat Northern Ireland on the head and be patronising.

Then again Rory should have played them at their own game, so far ahead on the final day he could have dandered out and pulled out a three shillelagh from his bag.

Colin Montgomerie, with more major disappointments than Edwina Currie, was just the man to guide us through the evening, although when he laughs and those teeth come into view it’s like watching the Hooded Claw.

With no Frankie around, it was left to Rory from Holywood to protect us from such things although there were scurrilous accusations early on in the round that he was ‘going to be the new Tiger Woods’. He has enough to do with playing golf without all that other stuff.

“Everybody hopes Rory will win because otherwise he’ll lose,” Bruce Critchley said at the start of the evening and I was still thinking about that five hours later when Rory was holding the trophy.

Monty was forever commenting on just how unlucky Luke Donald and Westwood were, Donald for being tired (aww bless) and ‘if it hadn’t been for that 75 on the first day’ Lee would have been up there. Indeed and if your granny had Titleists she’d be your granda.

“Can you imagine what Northern Ireland is like tonight,” mused Ewen Murray.

“They’ll be burning a lot of electricity in pubs, clubs and homes,” chortled Critchley. As opposed to what? Peat? The Big Boys Book of Stereotypes?

In fairness, Sky did their best to inject some drama into a day when there wasn’t any, Robert Lee losing the run of himself with Rory’s near hole in one. “C’mon honey, honey, honeyyyyyyyyy,” he panted, and I half expected a nine-foot hairy monster to appear, but it turns out John Daly wasn’t playing.

“Take a bow, Rory,” he added, and we wondered had Andy Gray somehow slipped back in but even better was G-Mac turning up in the studio. At least it meant an end to the never-ending Northern Ireland music playlist. You could hear the panic behind the scenes as they ran out, with a producer enquiring desperately where the Dana CD was.

Golden Graeme told us that Rory winning was ‘not a monkey off his back, it’s a gorilla’ and suddenly thoughts turned to Richard Keys.

Meanwhile, Critchley was still bigging up Westwood. “He’s knocked on the door so often it’s got to open,” he said, as Monty looked down sheepishly and shuffled his feet.

“Northern Ireland might not be the same for a few weeks,” snorted Murray, and ‘they might as well have a public holiday’ added Critchley as the curtain came down on an incredible weekend. Indeed, people are still out on the streets partying like it’s 1969.

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