Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 27 November 2014

US Open hero Rory McIlroy flies home with that trophy

Rory McIlroy arrives at George Best Belfast City Airport last night with his US Open trophy
Rory McIlroy arrives at George Best Belfast City Airport last night with his US Open trophy
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and his father Gerry McIlroy pose with the trophy after his eight-stroke victory during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy pictured with the US Open trophy at George Best Belfast City Airport last night
US Open Champion Rory McIlroy arrives at Terminal 5 of London's Heathrow Airport
Local shops congradulate US Open Champion Rory McIlroy in Holywood ahead of his return home
Holywood has been celebrating Rory McIlroy's US Open win
Rory's Uncle Colm Mcllroy and Stephen Crooks, Head Professional at Holywood Gold Club, pictured with members.
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland holds the trophy next to Stuart Cage (L) and Andrew 'Chubby' Chandler after his eight-stroke victory during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy kisses the trophy after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy for photographers after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Fans at Rory McIlroy's home club in Holywood watch their hero win the US Open
Fans at Rory McIlroy's home club in Holywood watch their hero win the US Open
Fans at Rory McIlroy's home club in Holywood watch their hero win the US Open
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland speaks with the media after his eight-stroke during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates his eight-stroke with caddie J.P. Fitzgerald victory on the 18th green to win during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green to win during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green to win during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his tee shot on the second hole during the final round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks to the 18th green with his caddie J.P. Fitzgerald during the final round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland takes his putter from his caddie J.P. Fitzgerald on the 13th hole 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)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland (R) celebrates his eight-stroke victory with his father Gerry McIlroy (L) on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy for photographers after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green to win during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks to the 18th green with his caddie J.P. Fitzgerald during the final round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Golf fans cheer as Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green to win during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches a putt on the 18th hole during the final round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland celebrates his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green to win during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland kisses the trophy after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 19: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the trophy after his eight-stroke victory on the 18th green during the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 19, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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)

Golf’s newest legend touched down on home soil last night clutching the trophy he deserved so much for his historic US Open win.



Rory McIlory flew into George Best Belfast City Airport shortly before 8pm, stopping just long enough to pose for some photographs with the coveted cup.

Belfast’s iconic Harland and Wolff cranes watched on in silent tribute in the background before the champion was whisked away in a car to his mansion on the Co Down coast.

After the frenzy that has surrounded Rory since his weekend win, it was perhaps no surprise that he declined to speak to the media.

Some went as far as following him to the gates of his Holywood home, but the closed mansion gates signalled that this was a time for some private celebration.

Nevertheless, McIlroy didn’t disappoint his fans, as he told his 426,737 followers on Twitter — a mere 30,000 more than he had on Monday — that it was “great to be back home”.

“Even nicer to have this on my kitchen table!!” he added, a reference to the photo he had just posted of the impressive trophy taking pride of place in his kitchen.

The modest star added: “And for anyone who's interested, there'll be no open-top bus parade in Belfast! I’m a golfer not a football team!”

Down in McIlroy’s usual watering-hole at Holywood Golf Club friends of the local hero said such an ostentatious homecoming was not his style.

They said the “down-to-earth” star would prefer a quiet drink with friends to celebrate.

Honorary secretary of the club Martin Gunning said Rory’s achievement was “really sensational”.

“It’s surreal,” he said. “We’re sitting here, and to think this small club in Holywood has produced this young guy and now he’s top of the world.

“We are just so proud of him.”

Club member Brian Murray added that Rory’s success was “fantastic”.

“I think it will be very good publicity for this club and for people coming to Northern Ireland,” he said.

“We’re certainly hopeful a lot of Americans and other tourists will come to visit here and come to walk the fairways which Rory walked.”

Earlier, as he landed in London’s Heathrow Airport yesterday morning, the 22-year-old revealed he would be taking a three-week break.

After the transatlantic flight he said: “It feels good, it feels great. It's nice to be able to call myself a Major champion. I’ve got three weeks off and then the British Open, so I want to take it easy and let it sink in.”

Before flying back to Belfast he had travelled to Birmingham to record a game show with Ant and Dec.

And following his success, golfing icon Jack Nicklaus — who was less than five months older than Rory when he won the first Major title — offered him advice about coping with celebrity. In this day and age, it's very difficult,” he said. “He needs to make certain golf is the first thing, as well as his motivation and desire to be great.

“My motivation was that I wanted to be the best I could be in the sport, and once I got close to Bob Jones's record, that became a motivation.

“I think Rory has got his head screwed on pretty well and I think he'll keep it there. It was obviously an unbelievable performance.”

Sports journalist Nigel Ringland, who has known Rory since he was a teen, believes he has the “right people around him”. “I’ve known Rory since he was 16. He is an incredibly grounded young man,” he said.

“He has a lot of good people around him. What he has achieved really is spectacular, but he has his friends, family and still likes watching a rugby match at Ravenhill on a Friday night, and his dogs.”

John Stevenson, the recently retired principal of Sullivan Upper where Rory studied, said: “There's a huge level of expectation there, and that's big for anybody.

“But I can honestly say, you know, that if anyone is capable of handling that, Rory's the guy because he's been working toward this since he was a very young boy.”

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