Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Alliss: Too early to call Rory a great

Peter Alliss hailed Rory McIlroy, pictured, as a player with bags of talent

Veteran golf commentator Peter Alliss has lauded Rory McIlroy following his USPGA Championship success but insists it is too soon to assume the Northern Irishman is destined to become one of the greatest players in the sport's history.

McIlroy was in majestic form as he blew away the rest of the field to win by a record eight shots at Kiawah Island. That was the Holywood golfer's second major crown following his success at last year's US Open and praise has been pouring in for the 23-year-old from his fellow professionals.

Alliss, 81, is also a big admirer of McIlroy but erred on the side of caution when asked if he could become one of the greatest of all time. "I love watching him (McIlroy) play, he's a tremendous young man and he's got all bags of talent. He's only 23, I hope that he's still doing the same when he's 43," Alliss told Press Association Sport.

Alliss added: "But he might break his legs next week and never play again. It's like asking will Tiger ever win again? How should I know? He (Woods) has won three times this year but he hasn't won a major. He's not played well but he's consistently getting top 10 finishes since his marital problems, you never know.

"Some people go through life and never win a major. McIlroy appears to be very calm, he's got a wonderful game when he's in full flow and he seems as if he enjoys it.

"His nerves are spectacular and he seems to have good people behind him with his family and everything but how many times is someone going to make a 100 at cricket or a footballer going to score 25 goals in a season?"

McIlroy's USPGA success at the age of 23 and three months means he is the fifth youngest player to win two majors, beating the likes of Woods and Nicklaus. However, McIlroy's tally of two majors is 16 less than the record held by Jack Nicklaus, while Tiger Woods has 14 major crowns to his name.

Young Tom Morris holds the record after achieving the feat as an 18-year-old in the 1860s, while Gene Sarazen, John McDermott and Seve Ballesteros are the only other players above McIlroy in the record books. However, Alliss says it is impossible to compare those players against one another.

He said: "They're in the past, you can't compare them. He's as exciting as any of those players were during the best stage of their career. Tiger's 35, Tiger was electrifying between the ages of 17 and 30, he won three amateur championships, he's won 70 or 80 tournaments in that time, you know it's remarkable.

"At this time Rory is the best young player by some distance but whether he has the consistency to go on is another question. The great thing lacking in young players today is consistency."

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