Holywood's favourite son Rory McIlroy roared on to victory by people that hold him dearest
It’s been just over a year since they had a night like last night, or perhaps suffered a hangover this morning like they did 12 months ago.
Holywood Golf Club was again the place to be for friends and family of the Co Down town’s favourite son Rory McIlroy as many of them turned out to roar him to victory.
The club is littered with television screens following an extensive revamp in recent months — but not surprisingly no-one was asking the bar staff to flick the Olympics closing ceremony on amidst the wall-to-wall coverage of McIlroy’s final round in the US PGA Championship.
Instead, all eyes were glued on their very own golden boy.
The ace put a year of ups and downs firmly behind him to reaffirm his place as one of golf’s top exponents.
In Holywood many remember a pint-sized Rory in and around the club with plastic golf clubs and balls, and later, as a teenager, his potential to reach the upper echelons of the game began to really shine through.
What endears him to those at Holywood Golf Club is that while their affection for him is obvious given the turnout at the venue when Rory is in action, he makes it abundantly clear how close to his heart the club at which he honed his precocious talent remains.
Last year the stuffing was knocked out of all those at the Holywood when Rory snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the US Masters.
But they didn’t have to wait long for him to make up for the mishap when, last June, he lifted the US Open title — the first Major of his career.
Last night — to the delight of his home town and golf club — Rory added the US PGA Championship at the age of just 23, with locals salivating at just how many more he can go on to win.
They cheered every great shot with clenched fists at the clubhouse where it all began.
A photograph on the wall shows him after he won his first schoolboy trophy, fresh-faced and dressed in a bright green blazer.
But it is the replica of the US Open trophy — donated to Holywood by their favourite son — which they take most pride in.
One local told how the level-headed ace whisked four of his pals from Holywood to America so they could watch him in action during the tournament.
Ian Smyth — who has known Rory since the Major champion was just a toddler — said he is still the same lad he was in his formative years.
“Since his success last year we have had visitors coming from around the world to see the club,” he said. “Rory is still very, very respected in the golf club.
“He was here last month for a corporate day, and we have a competition in his name.
“He is still very much a part of Holywood Golf Club. Rory still remembers the guys he grew up with and where he came from, and that is what is great about him.”
Seamus Comiskey said: “Rory will never leave Holywood Golf Club behind him, it’s in his blood. There is a long history between the club and the McIlroys.”
Henry Muckle praised Rory for putting not only Holywood on the map, but Northern Ireland as a whole.
“It’s fantastic for Northern Ireland, fantastic for the people of Ireland,” he said.
“It’s great for Rory to add another Major and get the monkey off his back of having won the one previously — and there will be more to come.”
Dougie Strain agreed that there is a lot more to come from the young superstar.
“I hope it sets him up for the Ryder Cup and gives him confidence for the tournaments that lie ahead,” he said.
“He knows that it’s up to him to do the job and he is more than capable of doing that job.”