The proud family of golf sensation Rory McIlroy have tipped the Northern Ireland star to make it all the way to world number one after his stunning debut PGA Tour win.
he Holywood star blitzed a world-class field — which included US Masters champion Phil Mickelson — to become the youngest winner on the Tour since Tiger Woods in 1996.
McIlroy, who turns 21 today, shot a course record 62 at the notorious Quail Hollow in North Carolina to finish four shots ahead of Mickelson with Angel Cabrera a shot further back.
“I suppose I just got in the zone,” McIlroy said afterwards.
“I didn't realise I was going eight, nine, 10 under par. I just knew I'd got my nose in front, I was just trying to stay there.”
Meanwhile his ecstatic family, who followed every shot at home on television, spoke of their pride.
His uncle Colm, himself a champion at Holywood Golf Club, tipped McIlroy to take the troubled Tiger’s number one spot.
“I’ve no doubt that Rory’s going to make the top five in the next couple of years and I wouldn’t be surprised if he made world number one,” he said.
“We always had high hopes for Rory but it’s only in the last few years that we have realised just how good he is going to be.”
Colm was watching at home with his son Fergus, while Rory’s parents Gerry and Rosie were following events from Fermanagh, where they were for the weekend.
“It’s hard to believe how far he’s come,” Colm added.
“His father used to be bar manager at Holywood Golf Club and would have taken him up during the summer. Rory is still young — he turns 21 this week — but he has done so much already.”
What made McIlroy’s win even more impressive is that he had struggled in his last two events on American soil, including rounds of 74 and 77 at the Masters.
“Rory has been having a tough time over the last few weeks but everything just clicked at the weekend,” Colm said.
“He had the two Major winners, Mickelson and Cabrera, breathing down his neck but that eagle on the 15th basically sealed it for him.”
Meanwhile, Mickelson, who finished second at Quail Hollow, hailed McIlroy as an “amazing talent”.
“To win (on the tour) at 20 is incredible. He's some kind of player,” he said.
McIlroy's only previous tournament win as a professional came at last year's Dubai Classic.
And Irish golf star Padraig Harrington predicted he would now go from strength to strength after the weekend win.