Imagine Golf Blogs

McIlroy - Rising Star of Golf

Imagine Golf's Tom Cates looks at golf's new posterboy

Posted Feb 10, 2009 by Tom Cates


Every once in a while along comes a sportsman or lady who makes you sit up.  Right now there's a young man who could, just could be one of the greats.  At 19 it is far too early to make any great assertions about Rory McIlroy's future in the game of golf but judging by last week's efforts in Dubai and his form at the start of this season, the teenager from Northern Ireland looks ready to make a pretty big splash in the game.  In his native country he is quite simply front page news, and with good reason - he is a phenomenal talent.
Mark O'Meara walked off the course last Thursday after watching from a ringside seat young McIlroy shoot a quite stunning 8 under par 64 and immediately said he strikes it better than Tiger did at the same age. That's a two time major winner, who has known Tiger for a very long time and is a very close friend of the world number 1, stating there is kid on tour right now who is better than the great one. High praise indeed and, one hopes, enough to make Rory swell with pride. He didn't buckle under the expectation, just responded by winning the tournament; despite a major back nine wobble. His up and down at the last for a par and a one shot win was quite superb and showed his class, especially when you consider he'd bogied four holes in a row from the 14th and saw a six shot lead frittered away.
Already this season he has played in six tournaments, he has won one - his first on tour, finished in a tie for 2nd at the UBS Hong Kong Open, tied for 3rd at the South African Open, tied for 5th in the Abu Dhabi golf championship, tied for 46th in the Qatar Masters and missed the cut in the Alfred Dunhill Championship where he shot 71-72, hardly a nightmare couple of rounds. He has talent oozing from every pour, hits it long, is accurate with his irons and aggressive with his putts - he also has balls. He has played five fourth rounds this year and scored two 65's, two 70's and a 71. It doesn't look like he feels it too much when the pressure is on.
Irish bookmakers Paddy Power have come up with a series of specials on their site; you can check them out by clicking on the link on our homepage. But here's a little taster.
Rory to win a major by the time he is 25, up to and including the 2014 season is 7/4
To win a major in 2009 is 9/1
Number of wins in 2009, only European and PGA Tour events:
1: 7/4
2: 5/4
3: 10/3
4: 12/1
5 or more :33/1
And finally one for the big hitters...To play in the 2010 Ryder Cup: 2/5 This is a cast iron certainty barring injury!
Of the others I might be tempted to have a few quid on him to win 4 times this season at 12/1 and 5 or more at 33's. This kid can play and also has the ability when he gets hot to stay hot. Winning back to back would appear to have no fears and with youth on his side is unlikely to feel the physical strains of life on the tour in the same way as some of the older players. He already has a win in the bank so in effect the price is 12/1 for him to win three more times, or 33's to win four or more. I might try and get Paddy to price up a market on where he'll finish the year in the world rankings - we might find a spot of value. There are comparisons to be drawn with Andy Murray's meteoric rise up the tennis rankings and considering how close the Scot has come to winning a major (he lost of course in the final of the 2008 US Open to Roger Federer) backing young McIlroy to win a major by the time he is 25 might appeal to some.
Whatever the future holds for Rory, you can be sure he will enjoy it. Under the umbrella of Chubby Chandler's ISM management you can be sure he will be expertly guided. With the experience of Lee Westwood and compatriot Darren Clarke also close to hand, there is no reason to assume such a level headed individual will get carried away. I for one hope we'll see plenty more of the smile that lit up The Emirates last Sunday evening.

-Tom Cates

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