Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Northern Ireland's golf capital of the world status under threat from United States

Telegraph Sport: where the debate starts

ROCHESTER, NY - AUGUST 07:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland is interviewed during a press conference prior to the start of the 95th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club on August 7, 2013 in Rochester, New York.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NY - AUGUST 07: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland is interviewed during a press conference prior to the start of the 95th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club on August 7, 2013 in Rochester, New York. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

When Darren Clarke famously won the Open in 2011, it was Rory McIlroy who made the priceless comment: "Northern Ireland. Golf capital of the world!!"

It stuck because we loved it, because it was genius and, well, because it was right.

When Darren won at Royal St George's it was the third victory for an Ulster player in six major tournaments – an extraordinary ratio.

Graeme McDowell got the ball rolling in 2010 with US Open success. Rory won the tournament a year later and then came Clarke's stunning triumph. In 2012 McIlroy continued the success rate, winning the US PGA.

Three majors have come and gone this year, though, with none of our boys taking home a trophy or even coming close.

If Rory, Graeme or Darren don't win the US PGA on Sunday, it will be our first year without a major since 2009!

I hate to say it but our title of "golf capital of the world" is under threat from that other giant of the fairways and greens, the good old U S of A.

From the 2010 US Open, Northern Ireland have won FOUR majors, the United States have also won four, South Africa three and Germany, Australia and England one apiece.

So, it's our wee country against the might of America on their home turf in Rochester, New York to claim the crown.

Seeing Rory and the world number one Tiger Woods going head to head on the back nine of the final round would be fun.

The major wouldn't just be at stake, so too would be our "golf capital of the world" status.

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