And at yesterday’s homecoming at Holywood Golf Club following his US Open victory, Rory McIlroy was quick to praise his parents for their support over the years.
Hailing the sacrifices made by Gerry and Rosie when he was a young golfer trying to make a name for himself, he promised to do all he could to ensure they would enjoy more Major victories in the future.
“I can't thank my parents enough for what they've done for me and winning the US Open is only a tiny little bit of my appreciation for what they've done, so hopefully there's more trophies for them in the future and more things for us to share and celebrate,” he said.
The 22-year-old record-breaking US Open winner said it was fantastic to be among old friends again.
The homecoming event in Holywood came a year after similar euphoric scenes in Portrush when McIlroy's close friend Graeme McDowell won the same tournament at Pebble Beach.
“The US Open has turned into the Northern Ireland Invitational,” McIlroy joked.
“Graeme inspired me and gave me a lot of belief that I could do the same thing.
“If Graeme hadn't won last year I don't know if I would be standing here as a Major champion.”
After spending two hours inside the clubhouse, where the walls are covered with pictures of his memorable triumphs, McIlroy emerged onto the balcony to a rapturous welcome from fans eager to catch a glimpse of the homecoming hero.
He thanked them all for their support over the 15 years he had been a member and even joked, when he was a seven-year-old annoying the club professional.
McIlroy said he felt he owed the fans one after failing in the last round of the US Masters at Augusta in April, despite going into the final round with a four-stroke lead.
“The support's been fantastic,” he said.
“Even before this tournament at Augusta I knew how much everyone wanted me to win that.
“It felt like this win was not just for myself, it was for everyone who supported me and all I can say is thank you to everyone who believed in me after what happened at Augusta.”
He also said it was too early in his career to think about long-term goals, such as surpassing the 18 Major titles won by Jack Nicklaus or the 14 of Tiger Woods.
“I've got my first one out of the way and now I'm looking for my second and that's all I can really do,” he said.
“I can't really put a number on it. I've won one very early on in my career but at the same time I know how hard these things are to win and hopefully I will be able to win more in the future.
“But 18 Majors is an incredible achievement and it would take some very special golf to be able to beat that.”
McIlroy said he looked forward to Woods’ return from injury.
“The game of golf is much better with him there,” he said.
But time waits for no-one and the rise and rise of Rory McIlroy means that Tiger Woods — once seemingly invincible — is fast becoming yesterday’s man.
There’s a new Holywood legend in town and he’s got more Major goals to achieve in the future.
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