A Rorying performance


I’m not surprised that a 21-year-old is leading the Open Championship. I’m not stunned that his opening round of 63 tied the lowest score in major championship history. This is the same youngster who, in May, went one shot lower with a final round 62 to win his first PGA Tour event over Phil Mickelson.

Rory McIlroy is leading the second consecutive Northern Irish charge for a major title. His fellow countryman and reigning U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell recently said of the young Ulsterman, “I don’t think I was ever in Rory’s league when it comes to the next-superstar-in-waiting perspective.” He added, “Sometimes when I play with Rory, I struggle to see why he doesn’t shoot 65 every time he tees it up. He’s really that good.”

Those of us in the industry who’ve had the chance to get to know McIlroy are very impressed with his maturity level. He shares an agent and spends a lot of time with veteran players like Lee Westwood and Darren Clarke. They encourage, protect, mentor and respect him. McIlroy is in good hands and well beyond his 21 years. However, he does act his age when it comes to his personal life. He’s still dating his childhood sweetheart from their hometown of Holywood. Rory once said of his life on tour versus the one at home, “It’s a balancing act that makes me the person that I am”.

Tiger Woods has great respect for McIlroy as well. He’s sharing the spotlight with him on the cover of his 2011 video game. Woods has said before that it’s just a matter of time before Rory realizes his potential in the majors. To do it here, over Tiger, at the home of golf, in the sport’s oldest championship … now that would be something special. But rather than ponder what could be for this 21-year-old sensation, let’s just sit back and enjoy the young man’s run at the Old Course.

The stars are in line for an historic finish.