Sunday’s historic win at the Open Championship signalled the return of Rory McIlroy to golf’s grandest stage, writes Brian Darcy.
When Gerry McIlroy shifted through the annals of golfing glory in his own seasoned days with an iron, he could have scarcely imagined his “wee Rory” would turn out quite the dapper with his own set of clubs.
From an early age, Gerry surrendered the life of a man who believed in his son’s ability. At two, Rory could swing his club and land a ball forty plus feet down the course, often his own back garden in Holywood, Co Down. Rosie McIlroy not only provided the motherly care Rory needed growing up, she too cast aside her personal wishes to work extra shifts at a local factory in Belfast City to develop her son’s golfing education.
Of course the tangible development of Rory’s game could only come from himself, external sacrifices meant opportunity, not certainty. That vacant opening Rory was provided with has now developed into something nobody could have envisaged for the boy from Co Down.
Take a look at the handbook of what is required to be a true legend of the game and it becomes quite apparent how good McIlroy can become. Talented, experience mingled with youth, a developing game and when in the mood, confidence that others fail to match.
At present we are spoilt for choice in Ireland over which golfing superstar to drool over from one round to the next. Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, McIlroy, Graeme McDowell are all major champions, though none look set to take Rory on head to head in a battle for Major championships over the next number of years.
Publically McIlroy will remain impartial to any suggestion of world dominance on his behalf; privately however he knows success will come his way provided he donates greater time and focus to his game. Focus, as opposed to effort is something McIlroy, at times, can let plummet in a matter of six or seven shots.
His two stroke victory at the Open was on the backdrop of an uneasy last round at Hoylake. Sergio Garcia remained in McIlroy’s mirror with a solid display, corroborating his case as one of Europe’s finest golfers. Despite that, McIlroy did hold out to claim his third major.
Attention will now turn to the career Grand Slam, something only Tiger Woods and the great Jack Nicklaus managed to conquer at their own tender age. Reaching milestones will be an everyday reminder to McIlroy from every available avenue.
Off course distractions this year most certainly have not helped his cause. His astonishing press conference before Wentworth was the notification to not only the world but to McIlroy himself that his personal life must be balanced and free from the effects of adoration, or indeed the lack of it. After all he is human and love and relationships are part of a journey for any young mid- twenty man.
For Rory it is different, however simplistic one makes it. His very public split from tennis star Caroline Wozniacki left him absent of his passion for the game he is so profoundly good at. Last week triggered that passion into life and backboned his win at the Open.
Admittedly, McIlroy confessed the circumference of his now famous Claret Jug was filled with jagermeister on Sunday evening, a potion to a deserved win, a continuous theme that may run into many more Open and championship wins in the future provided the passion, focus and enjoyment remains, we hardly doubt it won’t.
Brian Darcy, Pundit Arena.