Rory’s Open glory makes him talk of town

Honorary Secretary makes room for the Claret Jug in the McIlroy Museum at Holywood Golf Club the day after Rory McIlroy lifted the Open championship at Royal Liverpool
Honorary Secretary makes room for the Claret Jug in the McIlroy Museum at Holywood Golf Club the day after Rory McIlroy lifted the Open championship at Royal Liverpool

There was no sense of a bunker mentality in Holywood yesterday with people gathering to chat happily about their pride in the town’s favourite son.

In the coffee shops, cafes and newsagents, they spoke of little else but the phenomenal success of The Open championship winner Rory McIlroy.

Holywood Melanie Tomlinson

Holywood Melanie Tomlinson

Despite the 25-year-old making a habit of winning the world’s top golf tournaments, every victory is celebrated like the first.

The down-to-earth nature of the incredible man from humble beginnings – and his obvious gratitude to the local people who have supported him from his days as a child prodigy – has given everyone in Holywood a stake in McIlroy’s fortunes.

Many have, quite literally, profited from him holding off the spirited challenge of Sergio Garcia to lift the famous Claret Jug.

Daniel McClelland of Corries Farm Butchers has profited nicely from his faith in the world’s number two.

“I had a fiver bet on him at 16/1 so that got me £85. I didn’t have a share of the £200,000 [won by Rory’s dad Gerry and three friends] unfortunately.

“A lot of customers last week were saying that they had a bet on him too so people have been backing him as well as just supporting him.”

The keen golf fan added: “There is great support for him here in the town and personally I would always back him when he’s playing.”

Across the street in Oasis Travel, one member of staff knew more than most the magnitude of McIlroy’s achievements.

Melanie Tomlinson is the wife of the Holywood Golf Club course manager and a big fan of Rory.

“It has been a very busy morning up at the club. I was glued to the TV coverage but there has also been a real buzz about the amount of bets placed on him winning. So many people have either had a bet or know someone who has.”

Melanie said the popularity of the entire McIlroy family made the success extra special.

“Everybody is really pleased for the whole family and I know lots of people who are heading up to the club today in the hope that Rory will be home later on and drop in.”

Lisa Sprake, also of Oasis Travel, said: “Our first set of customers in this morning were all talk about Rory and they had been up at the club watching him win The Open last night.

“They said they were going back up to the club today so I’m sure there will be a great atmosphere up there.

“People in this town are very loyal to their own and everyone has certainly enjoyed this latest win.”

Community care worker Diane Leeman said she wouldn’t miss a minute of the television coverage when McIlroy is in action.

“I love every minute of it when Rory is playing. It used to be Darren Clarke, and I love G Mac too, but Rory is definitely my favourite now. I haven’t given up hope of Darren winning another major just yet – he could still do it,” she said.

“I would stay up to all hours watching and get the same buzz every time no matter how many majors Rory wins.”

Diane’s colleague Donna Scott agrees.

“Rory played fantastically well to hold off Sergio and Rickie Fowler when the pressure was really on. Everywhere you go in the town today everybody is talking about it.

“I was working last night but I didn’t miss it because every client’s house I went in to they were watching the golf. Everybody loves Rory because he hasn’t lost his roots,” she said.

The mood at Holywood Golf Club was as buoyant as the town centre – the car park dominated by satellite-equipped television vans while camera crews prowled the clubhouse and grounds for interview opportunities.

Club professional Stephen Crooks has seen it all before but says The Open is something to savour.

“I think the first major was pretty special because it was so soon after the Masters (when McIlroy had the infamous meltdown squandering a four-shot lead in 2011).

“The second one went under a radar a bit because it was on the last day of the [2012] Olympics, but this was great as it was The Open and the atmosphere was fantastic at the club, and because it wasn’t American coverage and the kids were still up.”

Commenting on how far McIlroy can go in the game, he added: “He’s certainly working hard enough behind the scenes and he wants to win as many has be possibly can. Eight, nine or ten would be realistic. There’s another major in three weeks and he could go out and win that too.”