Rory McIlroy already a great, but story is far from over
Published 22/07/2014 | 02:30
At 7am yesterday the sound of mowing machines broke the silence at Holywood Golf Club, a place that speaks so loudly of the success of Rory McIlroy.
Hordes of visitors were expected – media outlets wanting to share in the story of another Major championship victory by a player who learned his golfing trade on the Holywood hills.
It was here, eight years ago, that I first spoke to McIlroy, and I recall being struck immediately by his presence, his calmness and his confidence.
The following year I made a television documentary with him as he prepared to step from the amateur to the professional game.
And what a step it has been.
From a very young age McIlroy wanted to be the best player of his generation. It was a huge ambition and since then he has produced the play to match the words.
He has been world number one, played on winning Ryder Cup sides and now has three of the four Major titles, joining Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus in an elite club of players who have achieved this by the age of 25.
McIlroy is arguably the greatest sportsman ever to emerge from these parts, still so young and already in a league with Best and Higgins.
I grew up in the same Holywood street as his father Gerry and uncles Colm and Brian.
Wood End is just a stone's throw from the golf course and, as you stroll towards it, you pass by the sixth hole where Colm had a hole-in-one when he was just nine.
This game has been in the McIlroy family for years, passed from grandfather to father and then son.
Long-time Holywood club members Eamonn Carty and Philip Brady turned up to reminisce and talk about Rory in early morning television and radio interviews yesterday. The conversation moved from how good he has been, to how good he is and how good he might yet become.
Already, you hear his name in the same sentence as the greats, but everyone knows and expects there is so much more to come.
Some years ago his mother Rosie spoke to me after Rory's first two tournaments as a professional. After the first, he bought her an iron.
After the second, when he took third place in the Dunhill Links Championship, he picked up a cheque for over €200,000. Rosie quipped that he might buy her the board to go with the iron.
Much more has been bought since as McIlroy has moved into the league of sporting greats, but never forgetting the contributions and sacrifices of his parents to get him that far.
It has been some story, and there is still much more to come.