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Rory McIlroy ‘could win eight majors’

Rory McIlroy with the Claret Jug after winning the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake

Rory McIlroy with the Claret Jug after winning the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake

Rory McIlroy’s home club coach has lauded him as a once in a generation player and predicted he could go on to win eight majors.

The proud professional at Holywood said the country may not see another golfer of the calibre of the precocious schoolboy who rose to the very top.

Multi-millionaire McIlroy, 25, could now boost his earning power even more after becoming only the third player after Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus to win three major tournaments by the age of 25.

There was a party atmosphere on the manicured fairways in hills overlooking Belfast where it all began for McIlroy – who dreamed of winning the Open from age two or three and used a plastic club.

Club professional Stephen Crooks said: “He is very much a once in a generation player. I don’t know if we will get anyone else from Ireland who achieves what he is doing.

“He is unique.”

McIlroy’s two-shot victory at Royal Liverpool on Sunday night made him only the third competitor from Northern Ireland to win the Open.

Among his next goals will be the US Masters, the last piece of the four-major Grand Slam, and defending his Open title next year.

Holywood Golf Club’s honorary secretary Martin Gunning said he was a normal person despite his talent.

“I remember him dreaming about winning the Open from two or three years of age. He used a plastic golf club.”

Mr Crooks predicted that McIlroy could win eight majors, given what he has achieved at such a young age.

The professional has spent the last 14 years at the club and remembers when McIlroy was a 12-year-old schoolboy whose only aim was to get on the greens with his clubs.

He said: “He has a talent but has worked extremely hard from day one to achieve what he has done.”

When he was 12 he practically lived on the golf course, Mr Crooks said.

“He just loved playing the game; as soon as school finished he was up here.”

He said the atmosphere at the club was great.

“We are just delighted that he has achieved three majors at the age of 25.”

While his father Gerry earns a windfall from a bet made 10 years ago that his son would win the Open by age 25, McIlroy can expect a boost to his own coffers through endorsements linked to his new status.

While the exact figures have not been made public, it has been reported that his contract with Nike will earn him up to $250m (£156m) over 10 years.

There have been predictions he could dominate the game for the next 15 years.

North Down Borough Council mayor Peter Martin said the victory was a boost for golf tourism in Northern Ireland.

The local authority is meeting on Tuesday night and is expected to discuss how to mark his triumph.

Mr Martin said: “People are just chuffed to bits ... it is just brilliant for Northern Ireland in the wider sense, in terms of promoting Northern Ireland but especially in terms of golf tourism.

“We have some marvellous courses in Northern Ireland.”

The First and Deputy First Ministers have said the young golfer had delivered “a golfing master class”, while Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted his congratulations.

 

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