Sunday 17 November 2019

Fellow pros heap praise on Rory McIlroy

Mark Garrod

Graeme McDowell was positively gushing with praise for Rory McIlroy after his fellow Northern Irishman - and likely Ryder Cup partner next month - left everyone trailing in his wake again at the USPGA Championship in Kiawah Island.

The 23-year-old held off a final round challenge from Ian Poulter to win by eight shots and claim his second major.

"He's going to be the player that kids look up to - that kids measure their own wannabe games by," said McDowell.

"Ten years ago it was Tiger Woods. It still is Tiger Woods to a certain extent, but now we've got superstars like Rory McIlroy for kids to be looking at.

"With a great attitude and great charisma and great character he's great for the game - an absolute breath of fresh air for the game of golf.

"He answered all the questions that were asked of him. His score speaks for itself - he's a helluva talented player.

"It's tough to say that Rory is a Tiger Woods type player. Tiger is a once-in-a-lifetime type player, Rory is at least a once-in-a-decade type player.

"He's that good. I've been saying it for years how good he is.

"He showed us at Congressional (McIlroy's first major title at the US Open last year also came by eight shots and with a record score), by getting to world number one and here we go again.

"He's going to be a superstar of the game. He already is, but a real superstar now."

Padraig Harrington, who started the amazing run of Irish success (seven majors in the last six seasons), said: "He's only doing what he was destined to do.

"I think winning his second major is going to make things a lot easier for him. I think he'll be a better player for winning this time around.

"The last time it was great to win, but I think it heaped a lot of pressure on him.

"Winning a second will help him relax and make it easier for him to handle that position. It looks like it's going to be plenty of majors ahead of him.

"I still think Tiger's going to catch Jack (Nicklaus has 18 majors, Woods has been stuck on 14 since the 2008 US Open), so I'm not putting Tiger out of the equation.

"But I just think Rory's won majors at a young age, which is the key if you're going to win a substantial amount of them.

"He's proving that he doesn't need to get better. He just needs to stay the same, which is a nice place to be.

"When he plays well he can beat the field hands down. He plays like Tiger played - if he brought his A-game the rest of us struggled to compete.

"Tiger needs his A-game to come up against Rory. He's not going to beat him unless he has a big weekend."

Ian Poulter, who gave McIlroy a run for his money with a sensation run of six birdies in seven holes at the start of his final round before dropping back to joint third, commented: "Rory has obviously played some immense golf out there.

"When he plays golf like this he's very impressive to watch. Everybody should take note - the guy's pretty good."

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