RORY MCILROY’S decision to ply his trade on the PGA Tour was met with criticism at the start of the season – now it has been well and truly justified.
The young Irishman was magnificent in claiming his first Tour victory at the Quail Hollow Championship at the weekend, including one of the best final 36 holes of golf I’ve seen for a long time.
Seventeen birdies and an eagle for the final two rounds – an average of one every other hole on one of the most demanding courses you’ll play – is a tremendous performance and truly announced his arrival on the American stage.
I spoke to Rory after a disappointing Masters and he told me he needed to go away and take a break, while fine-tuning his game.
And it certainly worked as he magnificent final round 62 – a course record – completed a four-shot victory over Masters champion Phil Mickelson to become the youngest PGA Tour champion since Tiger Woods in 1996.
If he wasn’t a certainty for a European Ryder Cup spot before, he certainly is now – this is a huge step for young Rory, who climbs back up to ninth in the world rankings.
In fact, Rory’s was one of three impressive performances from talented youngsters this weekend – proving that the future of the game is in very good hands.
Alvaro Quiros became the third Spaniard after Seve Ballesteros and Sergio Garcia to win their home national Open, beating England’s James Morrison in a play-off for a fourth Tour title, If there’s one thing a golfer likes is to win their home Open and victory will further enhance Quiros’ claims for a Ryder Cup spot.
Spare a thought, however, for Mark Foster, who had a 20-foot putt for victory on the 18th, only to three-putt, including two misses from three feet, to lose out on a play-off place.
But how about this for a performance? At just 18 years old and playing in only seventh Japanese Tour event, Ryo Ishikawa produced the round of his life for a 12-under-par 58 – the lowest ever score on a major tour – to claim the Crowns tournament in Nagoya. Now that is an introduction.
RORY MCILROY | THE RECORDS
May 1989: Born Holywood, Northern Ireland
1998: Makes his first hole in one, aged nine
2004: Helps Europe win the Junior Ryder Cup
2007: Leading amateur at Open at Carnoustie
2008: Youngest player to make world's top 50
2010: Youngest PGA Tour winner since 1996