Rory McIlroy hailed as 'new Tiger Woods'
Rory McIlroy's emphatic win in the early hours of Monday morning at the US Open course in Maryland led to fellow professionals dubbing him the next Tiger Woods after he lifted his first Major.
He has become the youngest US Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1923 and his win follows fellow Northern Ireland champion Graeme McDowell's victory a year ago.
McIlroy, 22, came to prominence in Northern Ireland at an early age.
In July 2005, shortly after turning 16, he went round Royal Portrush on the region's dramatic North Coast in a course record. He became European amateur champion the following year - it qualified him for The Open - and reached number one on the world amateur rankings.
The sportsman, from Holywood, Co Down, has won as a professional in the Dubai Desert Classic and the Quail Hollow Championship in North Carolina.
He was third at the US Open last year and third in the last two US PGA Championships.
But one of his biggest disappointments was at the US Masters in Augusta this year when he was the youngest player ever to lead the competition but his game collapsed on the final day.
His close friend McDowell, from Portrush, Co Antrim, passed the trophy to McIlroy with fulsome words of praise.
"It's just phenomenal - you run out of superlatives to describe what he's doing this week. He's decimating a field," he said.
"I've been waiting for this to happen. He's that good, there's no doubt about it.
"I first heard about him when he shot that 61 at my home course in Portrush. You hear rumours about people and good players come and go, but this kid was something a bit special."
McIlroy's masterclass was reminiscent of his boyhood idol Tiger Woods' domination of the 2000 US Open when he won by a record 15 shots at Pebble Beach.
McDowell added: "He's potentially the next Tiger Woods - he's that good. It's great to see him out there fulfilling his potential. He's been like an accident waiting to happen."