Belfast Telegraph

It's a tall order to measure up to ace Rory McIlroy, but these little hot shots are well on their way to being our golfing greats of tomorrow

By Ali Gordon

Watch out Rory McIlroy – there are new kids in town.

Future golfing stars from across Ireland showed off their skills at Killymoon Golf Club yesterday on the opening day of the Bank of Ireland UK Irish Junior Open.

And eight-year-old Fionn Dobbin wowed spectators with his one-under-par round to secure the title in the five to nine-year-old age group.

The golfing sensation from Balmoral Golf Club, who started playing at the age of two, has high hopes of emulating favourite player McIlroy's success and yesterday's victory has definitely put him one step closer to his dream.

"I felt very excited," said Fionn. "The reason I enjoy golf is because I get to hit lots of shots and to practise."

Competition was fierce in the 10-12 age group, with Tandragee Golf Club's Cameron Fox winning by three shots.

"I thought playing in the Bank of Ireland UK Irish Junior Open was a lot of fun. I play golf because it's the only sport I can play well.

"I started playing golf at the age of four. Adam Scott is my favourite player," said Cameron.

Fresh from finishing inside the top 20 at the World Junior Championships at the famous Pinehurst course in North Carolina, 11-year-old Keaton Morrison also impressed with his fifth place finish.

The first of its kind in Ireland, the event saw 210 youngsters sign up for the tournament.

Organised by UK and Ireland Junior Golf Coach of the Year, Michael Gallagher, the competition allows children a taste of what the future could hold.

"There's nothing really for the very young ones, like the under eights, in terms of competition but they're seeing people like Rory McIlroy winning big tournaments and they want to do the same," said Mr Gallagher.

"Looking at the juniors competing, there's a lot of really, really good talent out there. A few of them were at the World Golf Championships in America a couple of weeks ago and it's just great to see so many of them doing so well," he added.

He also revealed that there were more promising golfers coming through the ranks.

"Brendan Mulgrew, who I've been teaching for the last few years now, is only six and he's the youngest competitor out there – he's very good. He calls himself 'Brendan Rory McIlroy Tiger Woods Mulgrew'!

"Without a doubt, there are more people playing golf since the likes of Rory McIlroy. I closed the entries at the end of July but I reckon I could have got another 50 or more competitors if the entries had stayed open.

"There were people phoning me up after Rory's win, asking if their kids could play.

"It's just great to see so many young kids wanting to get involved. Hopefully we'll find the next golfing superstar!"

Putt it there: Tom McKibbin with his hero Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy tweet makes wee Tom's day

Rory McIlroy may have millions of Twitter followers – but the world number one took time out to congratulate a local up-and-coming star.

Tom McKibbin (11) from Newtownabbey had taken to Twitter to say that he had won the coveted Rory McIlroy Cup at Holywood Golf Club.

He said: "I just won the @McIlroyRory Cup at Holywood today!!!!!!!! 7&6 #winnerwinnerchickendinner". It caught McIlroy's eye as he responded with: "Well done Tom!!"

Tom said: "It's the cup I really wanted to win this year because of course it's the Rory McIlroy Cup." He added: "I was really excited that he tweeted me, he's the number one player in the world and he probably gets millions of tweets."

Belfast Telegraph


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