Rory's father filled with pride over golf sensation
Teenager tames course on debut
Published 20/07/2007 | 07:28
The father of teenage Northern Ireland golf sensation Rory McIlroy has spoken of his pride after his son left the world's top players trailing in his wake in his Open debut.
The 18-year-old amateur from Holywood struck a spectacular 68 in the first round at Carnoustie yesterday to take joint third on the leaderboard - ahead of superstar Tiger Woods.
His father, Gerry, told the Belfast Telegraph of his pride last night after his son came in better than heavyweight professionals like Vijay Singh, Colin Montgomerie, Ernie Els, Phil Mickleson and Jim Furyk.
Rory, the youngest player in this year's Open, was the only competitor to tame the feared Carnoustie course without dropping a single shot.
The teenager, who looks younger than his 18 years, described his own performance as "phenomenal".
Speaking after the biggest round of his career, the cool teen said he was " just trying to enjoy himself" although he did admit to being "very nervous over the first few holes".
Added Rory: "This is the biggest event I've ever played in. This is just huge and to have all my friends and family here is just amazing."
Rory, who was mentored by Dungannon player Darren Clarke from the age of 10, enjoyed a dream round with three birdies - at the fifth, 10th and 13th holes.
On arrival at the 18th just after 6.30pm, Rory received a rapturous reception from the dozens of friends and relatives who had made the trip to England.
His proud dad, Gerry, told the Belfast Telegraph: "He had a great day, very pleasing with no drop shots. It's very good for an 18-year-old.
"I'm very proud of him. He has another hard day in front of him, but it's great for him.
"It's a big occasion. He's played in tour events before, but The Open would be the biggest stage in world golf.
"The atmosphere was outstanding and everybody was behind him. The applause he got walking up to the 18th was unbelievable."
Rory now looks good to make the cut and is the hot favourite to take the coveted Silver medal awarded every year to the leading amateur.
Bookies are already tipping him as a future champion and last night Tote Sport gave him odds of 25-1 to win the Open within the next five years.
Ahead of this year's Open, Rory underwent training sessions with multiple major winner Nick Faldo.
His mentor, Darren Clarke, has also hailed the youngster as the "real deal". He said: "He has the all-round package: his head is screwed on, the way he works so hard and knows what he is doing and he has an awful lot of talent. There's an lot of experience there for an 18-year-old."
There were also celebrations at Rory's home club in Co Down.
Irish Ryder Cup player Paul McGinley was second on four under par while Spain's Sergio Garcia leads on six under.
Darren Clarke, who teed off just before 8am, was also in good form, finishing one over. Portrush's Graeme McDowell had a disappointing round, finishing six over.