If it hadn’t already, the magnitude of Rory McIlroy’s golfing achievements is really beginning to register back in Holywood.
Three major wins had propelled the former junior champion into Padraig Harrington territory, but his heroics at Valhalla on Sunday could see him eventually listed among the sport’s legends.
Pride in McIlroy’s latest victory at the USPGA was clearly evident all over the Co Down town yesterday - and the prospect of him completing a grand slam of all possible majors has already focused his fans’ minds on the Masters at Augusta next year.
Oasis Travel in Holywood has already had inquiries about a package deal and have sourced a number of tickets for those who can afford the £5,000 or so needed to make the trip.
Heather Martin of Oasis said the buzz around McIlroy’s success gets more and more intense.
“It used to be that everyone was just talking about what Rory is doing, but the more he achieves the more people are planning trips to go and see the tournaments for themselves. Just how good he is is really starting to sink in.
“The Masters’ tickets are officially sold out but we have access to a limited number and have already booked people to go to Augusta next April,” she said.
Across the street in Skinner’s home bakery a special range of buns has been baked to celebrate McIlroy’s major triumph.
“Everybody just loves what Rory is achieving. The fact he’s from Holywood means a lot to us and everybody gets very excited when he’s doing well,” proprietor Valerie Skinner said.
Stephen Moore of Orr’s butchers said he has known the McIlroy family all his life and couldn’t be happier at the ongoing success story.
After sitting up until 2am to watch the drama from Kentucky, he said: “When I started in here as a 15-year-old I served behind this counter with Rory’s grandmother and she used to buy me a bun every morning. They are such a nice family.”
Barbara Kitteridge used to work in the local Centra store and remembers a juvenile Rory McIlroy as a regular customer.
She said: “I’m not really a golf fan but I remember Rory as a very nice young gentleman, who was always polite and respectful, so I do like to see him getting on well.”
Retired photographer Ken Nickell said he always enjoyed photographing McIlroy each time he won a junior title, but said the table in his studio “eventually couldn’t hold all the silverware.”
Joyce Cooper of the Floral Boutique said: “Without a doubt it has put Holywood on the map. Not everyone in the town is interested in golf but no one can ignore what Rory has achieved at such a young age.”
McIlroy is a huge Manchester United fan and said he is considering taking the USPGA trophy to Old Trafford when he goes to this weekend’s match against Swansea City.
“I don’t know if I can parade both the Claret Jug and the Wanamaker Trophy at Old Trafford on Saturday. I’ll try,” he told the BBC.
See Morning View, page 14