Rory McIlroy is the gold standard of Irish golf, so much so that upcoming golfers from the country squirm with embarrassment when mentioned in the same breath as their idol. “That is a tough question; I cannot answer that,” says Dermot McElroy, when asked to mention some of Rory’s traits that he would to imbibe in his game.
There is no doubt that the six-time winner on the PGA Tour has had a profound impact on the new wave of young golfers from Ireland.
“Rory has given us the belief that we can do well in professional golf too,” McElroy says.
McElroy will compete in the Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy here, which will see the best amateurs of Asia and Europe battle for top honours. He, along with countryman Gavin Moynihan, will tee off for a strong Europe team at the KGA course here on Wednesday.
“Since Rory and Greame McDowell (the 2010 U.S. Open champion) emerged, golf in Ireland has become ten times more popular,” says Moynihan, in a chat with The Hindu.
The duo - both regarded as among the best amateur talent in Ireland - also draw inspiration from certain common ground that they share with Rory. “Dermot and I have risen through the golf programmes as Rory; we play in the same club that he does. We played in the Irish Open and the Junior Ryder Cup as amateurs, and Rory was in the field too. We are aware that he competed in the Sir Michael Bonallack Trophy as an amateur as well,” says the 20-year-old Moynihan.
“When we played together, Rory had a chat with us, and it was nice to notice the little things he does at practice and during his rounds,” Moynihan says, and adds: “His rise has certainly given us a lot of hope.”
While the youngsters feel that there are not yet qualified to identify the qualities that make Rory special, there is one unique trait that is hard to miss. “Back in Ireland, the name ‘McElroy’, with an ‘e’, is quite common. There aren’t many McIlroy’s around,” says the golfer with the more prevalent surname.