Tributes have started pouring in for golfing superstar Rory McIlroy on his Open victory.
TV footage was beamed around the world of Rory scooping the 143rd Open Championship at Hoylake, his third major title.
It had been a nerve-wracking day at Royal Liverpool as Spain’s Sergio Garcia constantly threatened to catch Rory, playing a better final round of 6 under.
But the Co Down golfer played to one under, which kept him two shots clear of his challenger, spreading joy among his dedicated home club supporters in Holywood, Co Down, and further afield.
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson MLA and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: “Rory is a fine ambassador for Northern Ireland. We are all very proud of his achievements and hopefully he can carry this rich vain of form into the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in September.”
Investment Minister Arlene Foster said Rory McIlroy’s record breaking Open Championship victory is a major boost to golf tourism in Northern Ireland.
“Rory is a tremendous ambassador for Northern Ireland and today’s historic result will present even more opportunities to tell the world what makes this place so special.
“He said this week that bringing The Open Championship back to Portrush was the best decision the R&A has ever made - and of course I agree with him.
“It will be the biggest sporting event ever held here and will showcase our golfing tourism product to a wider audience than ever before.”
Niall Gibbons, Tourism Ireland chief executive, said: “This was a superb victory for Rory at Royal Liverpool and we are delighted for him. He is such a terrific ambassador for golf and for Northern Ireland and this victory has placed golf in Northern Ireland, once more, to the forefront of everyone’s mind.
“Tourism Ireland is working hard to capitalise on this in GB, the US and in our other golf markets around the world where we are inviting potential holidaymakers to come and visit the ‘Home of Champions’.”
“This has been an extraordinary few months for Northern Ireland golf with Rory’s win coming on top of the news that Royal Portrush has been invited to join the rota to host The Open – the most prestigious tournament in the global golf calendar.”
Back in Rory’s hometown of Holywood, DUP Councillor Stephen Dunne, who attended Holywood Nursery School along with Rory, expressed his delight at Rory McIlroy’s most recent success at the Open Championship.
He said: “I am absolutely delighted at Rory’s magnificent triumph at the Open. It is yet another magnificent achievement and I would like to commend Rory on winning this special title in such spectacular fashion.
“The Open is Golf’s most prestigious and coveted title and I am absolutely thrilled that the Open is coming home to Holywood.
“Holywood is becoming used to major golfing success in recent years but I think this latest success tops all previous triumphs by Rory.”
He added: “Rory and his family are held in very high regard locally and he has certainly helped put his hometown on the world map.”