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Rory McIlroy in my sights, says Northern Ireland 13-year-old Oscar Murphy after perfect shot beats pros in Abu Dhabi

By Gareth Hanna

Rory McIlroy beware - there's a 13-year-old Northern Ireland golfing talent with you in his sights.

World number 11 McIlroy got to see first-hand yesterday how good Oscar Murphy can be, as the young Omagh star seized his chance to 'Beat the Pro' at the European Tour's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The six-handicapper won a recent competition and part of the prize was the opportunity to tee it up alongside not only his golfing hero McIlroy, but also world number one Dustin Johnson and 2017 Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who finished the day as joint tournament leader on six under par.

During the tournament's opening round, in which McIlroy carded a three under par 69, Oscar teed off on the 177-yard par three 15th, his three-wood shot even ending up second closest to the hole in the world class fourball.

"It was unbelievable," Oscar said. "I got to walk up to the green with them and I was closer than Dustin Johnson and Tommy Fleetwood, but Rory beat me to it.

"I just talked to them about my game and where I'm from. (Rory) and Tommy Fleetwood said they wish they could hit my shot the way I did."

Sampling the life of a star, Oscar was interviewed by Nick Dougherty on Sky Sports and, having successfully seen off two of the pros, he had a warning for the former world number one.

"Rory's next," he smiled.

"It was surreal. It was probably one of the best days of my life. I was standing beside the tee-box when they were teeing off and my legs were shaking.

"I played a three-wood off the front foot so I could get it a bit higher and land it softly. It was a perfect strike."

Thirteen-year-old NI golfer Oscar Murphy tees off during the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship yesterday
Thirteen-year-old NI golfer Oscar Murphy tees off during the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship yesterday
Rory McIlroy
Young Oscar Murphy with Rory McIlroy

Oscar, who moved with his family to Abu Dhabi back in 2014, is hoping to follow in McIlroy's footsteps into the world of professional golf.

"It's very hard to explain the pride we as a family feel," dad Damian said.

"We're so excited for Oscar. It's his dream come true. Rory's his hero and maybe this is just stage one of realising his real dream.

"When your son has a lot of talent and love for the game, it's up to him.

"We point him in the direction and away he goes."

Oscar was told of his prize only the day before at his school assembly and said he "cried tears of joy".

If his swing on show at Abu Dhabi Golf Club is anything to go by, Oscar won't take long to trim a few more shots off his already impressive handicap.

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