The world waits for Rory McIlroy
Cathal caught up with Rory McIlroy, teenaged star golfer from Co. Down, as Augusta awaits a first glimpse of the kid causing all the fuss.
Little wonder then that the golf world awaits the moment when McIlroy tames the Tiger and assumes the mantle as his chosen sport’s number one.
“It would be great to get that accolade one day but I am just trying to play my golf, keep improving and see where it gets me,” said McIlroy when he recently celebrated his Dubai success at the Bangor club he grew up in.
“It’s obviously a huge compliment to be spoken about in the same breath as Tiger, probably the highest compliment I could be paid. Just to be compared to Tiger is mind blowing.
“I just want to try to keep getting better. If I can just keep doing what I’m doing and playing well then hopefully a few years down the line I might be able to compete with him.
“Tiger has been the best in the world for the last 10 years and I see no reason why he won’t be for another few years. I just want to try and get in the Top 10 in the world and see how it goes from there.”
A noted golf addict, McIlroy once begged his parents to buy him a replica of Tiger’s first winning Augusta card in a memorabilia shop on a visit to America some years ago.
He also counts flags signed by the likes of Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie and a ball used by O’Meara in his souvenir collection back home in Ulster, but Tiger is the one he will always be judged against, the one he will always want to rate himself by.
“I’ll be the first to say if I stood on the first tee with Tiger I would be intimidated because he has been a hero of mine for the past I don’t know how many years,” McIlroy added.
“I had a poster of him on my wall when I was a kid. I had a replica of his scorecard after the 1997 Masters, the final round. Obviously any new kid that comes out is going to be compared to Tiger because he has been the best for the last 10 or 15 years, and he might be the greatest golfer of all time by the time he finishes.
“But it’s never been a goal of mine to accomplish the major championships that he has or anything like that. Because of Tiger, everyone else has got better but he’s still in his prime. Tiger could be competing in majors until he’s 50 years old. You never know.
“You have to have someone to compare yourself against, or you always have someone that sets the bar and Tiger has been that person for the last 15 years, and if I can get anywhere close to him, I’ll be very happy.”
Away from golf McIlroy is just another kid hung up on how Manchester United does in the Premier League, a kid into fast cars, the movies and his music.
On a recent break at home he took in Belfast gigs by Chris Brown and Akon. On his recent playing visit to the U.S. he checked in with his teenage girlfriend as she prepared for her A level examinations.
Next week he will take a quick trip to Augusta for a little look before the Masters, and when he gets to Magnolia Lane for real he may well take O’Meara up on the offer of a practice round with Tiger.
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