Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Colin Montgomerie: Rory McIlroy can follow in Tiger tracks

Europe’s triumphant Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie says Rory McIlroy can take the pressure of being at the top in his stride

Rory McIlroy fell out of the cradle swinging a golf club. We have known for a long time about his talent.

There were questions to answer following that Sunday in Augusta but he dealt with those brilliantly at Congressional.

The question now is, how will he deal with the expectation that his US Open victory has created?

It wasn't just any old win. The manner of it took the breath away and drew the obvious comparisons with Tiger Woods.

Take away the final round of the Masters and he has dominated seven of the eight rounds of major golf this year. Go back to last year when he shot that opening 63 at St Andrews and at Whistling Straits, where he had a putt to make the play-off in the US PGA Championship, and he has been a contender in the last four. That is very rare.

Everyone is mentioning Woods' name. I think Rory needs to do that half a dozen times to reach the Tiger bracket but he has the ability to do so, no question.

America loves him. It is a youthful country. Doing well as a young gun is part of the heritage. They love their sports stars and he is one of them.

They took to him after his 62 on the final day at the Quail Hollow Championship and at the Masters, especially with the way he took defeat.

There is a way of taking victory and a way of accepting defeat. The former is easy. The latter less so. McIlroy dealt with the whole thing with dignity and came back to win so impressively.

What do you do for an encore? This is the problem he has created.

The next major is the Open in three weeks time. The expectation has not been this high since Tiger won at Pebble Beach by 15 shots in 2000. He then went to the Open at St Andrews and won by eight, shooting 19 under, the all-time major record.

Rory is in this territory. The pressure is on. There are very few players good enough to cope with that, but he is.

It is a raw talent that he has.

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