Saturday 20 January 2018

Modest Rory makes cut as fashion icon

Teenagers copying golfer's trademark mop of curls

Breda Heffernan

YOU know you have cracked the big time when teenagers start copying your haircut. And yesterday it was Rory's McIlroy's mop of curls that was the hairdo du jour.

Holywood Golf Club was teeming with boys emulating the US Open champion's trademark curls and hoping that they too might one day win a major.

There had been talk of a triumphant open-top bus tour through the streets of Belfast, but in the end it was a more low-key homecoming that was more suited to the understated man himself.

Deeply tanned from his American sojourn and looking a tad tired from all the celebrations, Rory met waiting media and locals in the clubhouse and proudly displayed the latest addition to his burgeoning trophy cabinet.

Rapturous cheers echoed around the members' bar as the new major winner entered.

While everyone else is predicting more wins to come, the down-to-earth golfer said he would be taking it one tournament at a time.

"I think once you get the first one out of the way, things can start happening for you. I don't want to set a number (of future wins).

"I've won my first one and it's great, but now I'll be trying to win my second."

He paid special tribute to his parents and told how his father worked three jobs and up to 100 hours a week while his mother took night shifts at a local factory so they could make their son's dream come true.

"I was so young that at the time I was oblivious to all this. But once you become older and more mature, you realise how hard they did work for you.

"The opportunity they gave me to pursue this career -- they're the best parents in the world. All my success is probably down to them."

Last weekend's win at Congressional means the 22-year-old will have to get used to living in the limelight and intense media scrutiny -- not just of his golf game, but also his personal life.

However Rory, who is in a long-term relationship with local girl Holly Sweeney, said he was ready for the attention that is coming their way.

"Holly and I have been together since I turned 16 and she was 14. She knows me better than anyone else in the world, apart from my parents.

"To have someone with you like that is huge. Obviously, she's my girlfriend but she's my best friend too. I can say things to her that I wouldn't be able to say to anyone else," he added.

Among those who gathered in the clubhouse was Rory's 12-year-old nephew Fergus, pictured above.

A keen golfer himself and his uncle's number one fan, Fergus was asked if he might one day rival his famous uncle.

"Some day -- but not yet," he replied.

"Sometimes he takes me out on the course. He has told me to 'slow your swing and keep your head down,'" he added.

Rory said he was delighted if his success had inspired some of the younger members of his local club and already some of them are harbouring dreams of their own major wins.

Brothers Cameron (16) and Giles (14) Strutt -- who could pass for mini-Rory's with their floppy curls -- said they were glued to their television as they watched the US Open.

"I met him in Spain last year and he's really nice and friendly. I've been following him since he was 16 and I'm really pleased for him," said Cameron.


Meanwhile Giles, who modestly describes himself as an "alright" golfer, said he was confident from the outset that his hero was going to emerge victorious at Congressional.

"Since the first round he was leading by a lot. I thought he was going to go all the way and he did," said Giles.

After a gruelling two hours conducting press interviews, Rory finally got to celebrate his win with the members of the club who have known him since he was a small boy and who had a ringside seat to watch his rise to stardom.

Irish Independent

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