WORLD number one Rory McIlroy will become the golfer of his generation in much the same way as Tiger Woods did, according to R&A chief executive Peter Dawson.
The Northern Irishman, 23 in a fortnight, already has one major title to his name after winning last year's US Open, having previously had a successful amateur career.
With Woods struggling to regain his dominance of a few years ago, a new breed of younger golfers are hoping to take over his mantle and McIlroy heads the queue.
His rise to the top is another indicator of his talent and Dawson has watched his progress with respect.
"It's very gratifying to see someone we've seen from his amateur days and played in a lot of events come through like this," he said.
"It's a wonderful time for British golf and European golf, having so many players from these islands and the continent of Europe doing so well.
"It is quite indicative to me as to who the star players are; the star players are always the ones where the TV companies are very interested in what tee times they're going to get at the Open.
"Rory and Tiger are the two that they are most interested in. So you're really seeing the old guard in Tiger, he's only mid-30s, isn't he, and the young Rory.
"Every generation has its stars, and Rory is going to be this one, I'm sure."
Jim McArthur, chairman of the R&A's Championship Committee, echoed Dawson's endorsement.
"Rory certainly relates to the younger person, the younger golfer. I think he has certainly been a good role model for them," he said.
The focus on Irish golf has grown in recent years, leading to a growing call for the Open to return to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland, which hosted the championship in 1951.
Dawson admitted they had looked at taking the championship back across the Irish Sea.
"I and some of the people in the Championship department have been over having a look at Royal Portrush, a magnificent golf course," he said.
"We're a long way from any announcement that the Open is going back to Portrush but we have had a look at it."