Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

McIlroy’s a surefire major bet now

One or two eyebrows might have arched a few years back when Gerry McIlroy and three pals pitched in £100 each and backed his son Rory, then just 15, at odds of 500/1 to win the Claret Jug before he’s 25.

Now, it’s beginning to look like the bet of the century.

As Sunday’s spectacular first victory on Tour sparks ever more favourable comparisons to Tiger Woods, McIlroy is currently rated by bookmakers as a 7/4 shot to win one of golf’s Grand Slam championships before turning 25 in May 2014.

He’s even being quoted at ludicrously short odds of 7/1 to come up trumps in a Major this year.

The bookmaker in question was lucky he limited the Holywood syndicate to £400, though he still stands to lose £200,000 if McIlroy fulfils widespread expectations at The Open inside the next five years.

Yet even as he soared 23 places to 16th in the world yesterday, the highest ranking ever attained by a player his age, McIlroy remained calm amid all the hyperbole and flatly dismissed suggestions he might now be targeting the Majors.

"I’ve only played in one Major," he said yesterday as he and his parents were whisked by car away from the chaos of snow-bound Heathrow to Manchester to try and catch a flight home to Belfast.

"I mean, I’ve just won my first event and it’s great, but I have still got a long way to go," added Rory, who’s just as level-headed in dealing with comparisons between himself and Woods, a player he’s idolised since age six.

"I don’t think anyone can be compared to Tiger," he said. "I’ll never be able to do what he has done for golf. Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to win Majors Ä what’s he done, 14 of them? Well, I just hope to keep getting better and better and trying to win golf tournaments. If I can do that, I’ll be happy.

"Tiger’s been a role model to me, someone I’ve always looked up to, and even though he’s one of my competitors now, an opponent, he’s still one of my heroes."

"I think it’s something you grow into," he explained. "Honestly, growing up with Darren Clarke has helped. He was someone I looked up to when I was younger but through playing with him out on Tour, we’ve become friends. It has just progressed into a nice relationship."

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