Rory is the new Faldo, says Nick
Rory McIlroy reminds Nick Faldo of himself at the same age, the six-tim Major winner said on a flying visit to Northern Ireland yesterday.
Faldo has taken more than a keen interest in the young Ulsterman over the past few years and says the progress he has made so far has been staggering.
"I do see a lot of similarities in Rory and myself when I was the same age," he said.
"I started on Tour when I was 19 and won my first event, the PGA at Birkdale at 23.
"So Rory maybe needs a couple of years before we will really know what he is capable of but he's only 18 and has only been a professional for a week. Give him time."
Faldo was paying a working visit to his Lough Erne development which promises to be the most spectacular course in Ireland when it is finished in a couple of years time.
Three holes have been completed and they hope to open nine holes sometime next year.
McIlroy will be the touring professional for Lough Erne when the course does open for business in 2009.
It was with a certain amount of pride that Faldo followed McIlroy's progress at the Open Championship in July.
Their assocation goes back years to McIlroy's involvement with Team Faldo when towards the end of his playing career the three-time Open Champion set out to idendtify, in his words, " the new Faldo". And McIlroy's potential, he says, shone through from the start.
"I'm delighted that Team Faldo through the Faldo series has produced players of the calibre of Rory, Oliver Fisher and Kiran Mattharu on the European Ladies Tour as well," he said.
" But when you look at how Rory handled himself at Carnoustie you know he knows what he isa bout.
"I wasn't surprised in the least that he could go out there and shoot four under on the first day.
" One thing that really impresses me is his confidence which is great.
"He's got that swagger, that self-belief which is going to be very important to him.
"He showed at the Open that every part of his golf game is in good shape but you've got to have serious belief in yourself out there on Tour.
"He looked like he knew what he was doing, had a good caddie and they work well together.
"He has a very bright future and I'm delighted that he is going to be playing out of this development which I beleive will be unique in world golf."
Meanwhile McIlroy and his father Gerry beat Darren Clarke and his dad Godfrey in a challenge match yesterday in Sligo.
It was held to mark the opening of Clarke's new course at Castle Dargan just outside the city.
The Holywood pair wrapped up the match five and three.
"The McIlroys gave themselves an advantage by going to bed early on Sunday night." said Darren.
"You can be sure neither me nor my dad did that."