Irish Golfer Is Top Of The World

Holywood Northern Ireland has made global news this morning as a young golfer from the Co Down Club, Rory McIlroy, 22, carved his name into the record books overnight with a spectacular victory at the US Open.

Although it is his first in a major championship, it follows last year's coup by Co Antrim's own Graeme McDowell, who won the US Open in 2010.

As he handed the trophy over, McDowell said: "He's great for golf and a breath of fresh air. The best driver of a golf ball [with] a great touch around the green."

Worldwide news coverage followed as Holywood, Co Down celebrated in a style fit for Hollywood, USA with golf fans packing both the Holywood Golf Club and bars, such as the seaside 'Dirty Duck' to cheer their hero on late into the night and early hours.

As the evening progressed the victory looked increasingly certain as Rory continued his top form with a magnificent fourth round of 69, two under par, to finish on a record-breaking 16 under par for the tournament, eight shots clear of Jason Day, the Australian, with England's Lee Westwood one of four players tied for third on six under.

McIlroy's score of 268 smashed the previous lowest at the US Open of 272 and the record against par for the championship of 12 under, both set by Woods when he won by 15 strokes 11 years ago.

The Taoiseach has extended his congratulations to Rory McIlroy on his outstanding achievement in winning the US Open: "Rory McIlroy’s victory in the US Open was both emphatic and inspiring. Rory led from the front and his record breaking victory stands as one of the great achievement in any sport.

"I'm sure this will be the first of many major golfing achievements Rory will attain in what I'm sure will be a long and stellar career," he said this morning.

Just hours after the top player got his hands on the world's greatest golfing trophy, the NI Tourism Minister has said she is confident that a prestigious local course, Royal Portrush can host a major golf tournament in 2016.

Commenting after McIlroy turned the final day at the US Congressional Country Club into a victory parade - showing no sign of the nerves that overcame him at the Masters in April - Arlene Foster said golf tourism had a role to play in attracting more visitors to NI.

Paying tribute to Rory McIlrory's victory on BBC NI this morning, the Minister said there was "a tremendous opportunity" to attract golf tourism to Northern Ireland.

Commenting after figures obtained by the BBC suggested that visitor numbers for last year dropped by 300,000 to 1.7m she also said in the first three months of 2011, visitor numbers were up by 7%, so are actually 'on target' for the Stormont Executive's Programme for Government who want 2.5m tourists to come to NI this year.

Paying tribute to Rory McIlrory's victory the Minister said there was "a tremendous opportunity" to attract golf tourism to Northern Ireland and said that her Department was already talking to Royal Portrush about bringing the huge golf tournament to NI.

Last night Rory McIlroy himself began to realise the depth of his victory and said: "I'm aware it's a notable win. I knew what Tiger did at Pebble Beach in 2000 and went out there trying to emulate him in some way. The whole week has been incredible. I couldn’t be happier."

This morning, the NI Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has congratulated Holywood golfer Rory McIlroy on a superb win at the US Open.

After the 22-year-old secured his first major title with an eight shot victory yesterday and became the youngest US Open champion in history, Carál Ní Chuilín said: "This is a fantastic win for Rory McIlroy. He showed tremendous character throughout this tournament and is truly deserving of this victory.

"Rory is an excellent role model for golfers and sports people across these islands and indeed across the world. We look forward to his return home and offer him many congratulations."

The Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson and the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness MP MLA have also this morning congratulated Rory McIlroy on his outstanding achievement in becoming the 2011 US Open Champion.

Mr Robinson said: "Rory McIlroy's emphatic win in the US Open is one of Northern Ireland's greatest sporting moments. Over the past four days Rory played perhaps some of the best golf we have ever witnessed. To have led from the first day of the tournament to the last shows a maturity and composure far beyond his years.

"Thanks to our golfers, Northern Ireland is making headlines throughout the world for all the right reasons, both Rory and Graeme McDowell are tremendous ambassadors for their sport and their country. I would encourage any golf fans to come to Northern Ireland to see for themselves why our golfers are so good."

Mr McGuinness said: "There are a few of us who have followed Rory's career who never doubted that he would one day win a Major, but to have done so in such emphatic fashion is nothing short of incredible.

"The manner in which he has conducted himself this weekend, showing tremendous resilience and character following the disappointment of this loss at Augusta, is a tremendous example to us all," he said.

"This win follows on from Graeme McDowell's great win last year and I am very pleased to be able to say that our local golfers are among the very best in the world and I have no doubt that both Rory and Graeme will go on to win further Majors."


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