Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Jacklin: Rory McIlroy’s life as he knew it has ended

Local shops congradulate US Open Champion Rory McIlroy in Holywood ahead of his return home
Rory McIlroy pictured with the US Open trophy at George Best Belfast City Airport last night
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Fans watch the play of Rory McIlroy during the final round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

As Rory McIlroy travelled home from America yesterday, US Open trophy on board, another runaway winner of the title has spelt out what it means.

“Life as he knew it has ended,” said Tony Jacklin, whose seven-shot victory in 1970 was Europe's first for 43 years.

Now, of course, eight-shot winner McIlroy has followed in the immediate footsteps of fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell.

Jacklin, speaking to Press Association Sport, believes that can only help as the 22-year-old tries to adjust to his elevated standing in the game.

“What a terrific performance and how remarkable that a tiny little area on the map has produced two winners in a row,” said Jacklin.

“I watched all I could and I'm absolutely thrilled for him. It was fantastic.

“He is such a great kid and it was faultless. Obviously he had learnt from the other opportunities he had.”

McIlroy followed an opening 63 in The Open last year with an 80, missed out on a play-off by a shot at the US PGA a month later and then in April was four ahead with a round to go at The Masters only to compile another 80.

“I remember I was with Jack [Nicklaus] and he told me he had lunch with Rory,” Jacklin continued. “He said that you basically figure it out — if you are good enough to get into contention a few times you figure it out.

“I'm so glad he did it in the very next major and I remember myself that when you have that much of a lead it's hard in some respects.“

Jacklin's US Open win came 11 months after he became Britain's first Open champion since Max Faulkner in 1951, and the scene was already very different in terms of global travel and financial opportunities.

“In my case there were no example in Britain of how to handle the situation,” he continued.

“You need people around you you can trust and he has plenty of examples of what to do and how to organise.”

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