Rory McIlroy produced what Padraig Harrington described as a lap of honor to secure his first Major on a dramatic final day at the US Open on Sunday.
The 22-year-old from Holywood in County Down secured his nomination as the new Tiger Woods as he smashed records galore en route to an eight shot victory at Congressional.
Harrington described McIlroy’s final round 69 as a ‘lap of honor’.
“People talk about Tiger Woods smashing the Jack Nicklaus record for the most Majors but we have just the man who is going to do it win his first Major,” claimed Harrington as McIlroy stamped his authority on the world golf stage.
Just months after a final day collapse at the Augusta Masters, the Ulster youngster showed he is ready for the greatest challenges golf can throw at him.
He didn’t just protect his Saturday lead this time, he actually built on it as the best golfers in the business failed to even threaten his maiden major.
“The whole week has been incredible - I could not have asked for any more and I am so happy to hold this trophy,” said McIlroy as America hailed its new champion and the trophy stayed in Northern Ireland after Graeme McDowell’s 2010 win at Pebble Beach.
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“For such a small nation to win two US Opens in a row is pretty special. As Graeme said last year, there will be a lot of pints of Guinness going down.
“I know a few of my friends will be partying and I can’t wait to get home and join them.”
The Congressional win came just 70 days after McIlroy’s collapse at Augusta when a four shot third round lead was followed by a disastrous 80, leaving him 10 shots off the winning pace at the Masters.
“Augusta was a valuable experience. I knew what I needed to do today to win. I learnt a few things there about myself and my game,” insisted McIlroy.
“I put a few different things into practice and it paid off.”
The youngest US Open winner since the legendary Bobby Jones in 1923, McIlroy is also the second youngest European major winner of all time and the youngest since 1872 when Young Tom Morris captured his fourth and final Open at just 21.
McIlroy celebrated late into the night in Maryland with his proud father Gerry who walked every inch of the course for the four days that will go down in sporting history and golf folklore.
“Happy Father’s Day - this one’s for you,” shouted McIlroy at the presentation ceremony. “I have to mention my mum too - everything they have done for me I can’t thank them enough.”