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McIlroy controls Masters destiny

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Rob Hodgetts | 03:29 UK time, Sunday, 10 April 2011

Augusta, Georgia
Golf could be set for a changing of the guard at Augusta on Sunday.

The 21-year-old Rory McIlroy goes into the final round of the Masters with a four-shot lead, poised to become the second youngest winner after Tiger Woods.

To McIlroy's generation, Woods is the icon, the man they watched as kids, the man who changed the sport. They could be about to get their own icon.

The lad from Holywood, Northern Ireland, has spoken this week of how, as a golf-mad seven-year-old sitting with his Dad, he watched mesmerised as Woods won the 1997 Masters by a record 12 shots for his breakthrough major win at 21.

"That's when Tiger sort of grabbed all our imaginations," said McIlroy. "It was a huge moment in the game of golf." Woods was only eight months younger than McIlroy - 22 in May - is now.

But with Woods, 35, who is still not out of it this week, generally at a crossroads in his career; and with defending champion Phil Mickelson seemingly too far back to challenge, a win for McIlroy would not only break their monopoly on the tournament (six wins in the last 10 events between them) but would suggest the game of golf is about to enter a new era, skipping a whole generation of late 20 and 30-somethings still searching for that elusive major title.

"A win for me, personally, it would be huge," said McIlroy. "And for the game of golf, it would be nice, as well. It would be nice to get a major early and show some of the young guys that it is possible."

Rory McIlroy

The giant leaderboards have made happy reading for McIlroy all week

Of course, even if he does win - and before we go any further, four shots is nothing at Augusta so this is all hypothetical - there is no guarantee that he will go on even to be a multiple major winner, never mind craft a career as successful or as long-lived as Woods.

Asked if clinching a wire-to-wire Masters win on Sunday would be comparable to Woods's 1997 victory, McIlroy was quick to play it down.

"Not really. You know, he's done so much more for the game than I ever could or will, breaking down barriers," he said.

But McIlroy has suggested since hitting a 40-yard drive at the age of two, becoming the world's top amateur for a week as a 17-year-old, and carding 68 as an 18-year-old amateur in the first round of the 2007 Open, that he was destined to achieve in professional golf.

Thirds in the last two majors, as well as a win apiece on the European and PGA Tours have taken him to ninth in the world, the second youngest player behind Sergio Garcia to reach the world's top 10.

"He's just a natural talent," said BBC golf commentator Ken Brown. "The first time I saw him was in the Walker Cup in 2007. They were all good but when I came to him I saw balls being hit flush every time out of the centre of the club with such ease. He could shape it and had all the shots - high and low. He's one of the few you would say is naturally gifted - like Sandy Lyle. It's sometimes contrite to say this, because golf takes a lot of work, but some people have certain gifts. He's got it."

He added: "The progression of his career, as a boy golfer, then Walker Cup and in his first couple of years as a pro - including leaving the PGA Tour last year because he didn't like it - he's had a lot of experience playing at the highest level with the best. Just because he's young, some players have never had the experience he's had in 10 years as a pro."

Six-time major champion Nick Faldo told me before Saturday's third round: "He knows he's playing well. He hasn't put a foot wrong. He's relaxed because he knows he's got career ahead of him - he's got 20 more tries, minimum.

"Once you know you're not going to fall off your bike you're not nervous. He knows, 'I'm going to win this one day'. He knows he's special. So I think he has that patience. He might clean up right now. It wouldn't surprise me."

There was much talk before the tournament of how a new breed of young Americans, some from other sporting backgrounds, could be set to take over the game but for the first time ever there are no home players in the top five going into the final round at Augusta.

And if an international player is to win, it would be the first time since 1994 - Jose Maria
Olazabal (Masters), Ernie Els (US Open) and Nick Price (Open, USPGA) - that an American has not held at least one of golf's four major titles. Even without a McIlroy win, with six Europeans in the top 10 in the rankings, the world of golf is definitely tilting on its axis.

Australian Jason Day, McIlroy's partner for the first three rounds, is in a four-way tie for second at eight under and is another young thruster indebted to Woods.

But at the ripe old age of 23, he bemoaned how the top players were getting younger and younger. Japan's rising star Ryo Ishikawa, the world number 45, for example, is just 19, while American Ryder Cup star Rickie Fowler is 22.

"It's unreal," said Day. "It just shows how good coaching is, the science behind the game, and how confident some of these young guys are coming up now, and the better experience they are getting."

He added: "When Tiger came along, everyone turned into athletes. We are not fat slobs anymore."

Of course, there is always an exception and while Argentina's Angel Cabrera may take offence at being called a slob, he is at the other end of the fitness spectrum. Also at eight under the 41-year-old former US Open and Masters champion, along with 40-year-old South Korean KJ Choi, might yet blow all this new era stuff out of the water.

The rest of the players in the top 10 - Charl Schwartzel, 26, Adam Scott, 30, Luke Donald, 33, Bo Van Pelt, 35, Bubba Watson, 32, Ross Fisher, 30 - are hardly young guns either.

There are sub-plots, too - Choi could become the first Asian Masters champion, Australia is still searching for a Masters winner, only Cabrera in the top 10 has won a major, no-one has come from more than eight shots back after 54 holes to win at Augusta...

But the 75th Masters is McIlroy's to lose. Facing the press after the third round he spoke quietly, thoughtfully, respectfully. He seemed aware that he is on the brink of a great achievement but was careful not to get ahead of himself.

"I know how leads can dwindle away very quickly," he said. "I have to go out there, not take anything for granted and play as hard as I've played the last three days."

Brown added: "If he putts half decently he'll win. He's been very sound tee to green, tactically he's been sensible, he's looked comfortable and confident with himself and putted very steadily.

"He had good concentration and didn't get rattled when people got close to him. And with two thirds he's been in the fast lane in majors and knows what's going on.

"But he hasn't got the Green Jacket yet. Any of the leading players could put in a sparkling front nine of 31 or 32 and get right up there in the mix.

"It will be a very pressure-packed day with a lot of expectation from fans, but if he plays his game, and has a good, steady day I will be very surprised if he doesn't win. It's down to not getting nervy on the greens early on and letting the other lads have a sniff."

Augusta is gearing up to crown a new young master on Sunday night.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    This is more like it Rob, rather than the nonsense you posted in your blog a couple of days ago... now is most certainly the time to get excited at the possibility of Rory fulfilling his undoubted promise his game has shown. Not only does he come across as a level headed down to earth bloke, he's British too, and I'm proud of his achievements this week even if he isn't the owner of a green jacket this time tomorrow...

  • Comment number 2.

    Cmon Rory, All your friends at home in Ireland are shouting for you!!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    Rory has this now, doesn't he? A 'star is born' as they say.

  • Comment number 4.

    Really hope Rory wins this, not least because I have him at 25/1.

    He's the most naturally talented golfer I have witnessed & the sooner he wins his first major the more he will win in total. Woods must dream of having Rory's game tee to green. If only Rory's putting matched that of Woods in his pomp, then Jack's record might really be under threat...

  • Comment number 5.

    Huge day for Rory, I'm excited but nervous so I can't imagine how he'll be feeling when he wakes up in the morning.

    Anything can happen in 18 holes of golf, but at 4 points clear his fate it comfortably in his own hands.

    Also "(seven wins in the last 10 events between them)" - at the masters? as they have only won 7 between them and Tiger picked up his first 14 years ago this just can't be correct I don't think? Or am I missing something?

  • Comment number 6.

    I wish people would shut up about McIlroys putting. yes he hasn't made a lot of 10 footers so far, but firstly he has had all those opportunities cos his iron play has been off the scale, and secondly HE IS THE ONLY PLAYER NOT TO HAVE A THREE PUTT THIS WEEK..

  • Comment number 7.

    McIlroy has an outstanding opportunity to win his first major.However we have one player who must win a major sooner or later.Schwartzel has now come to terms with himself and is now recognised as the best player in South Africa.
    He can shoot low and to date has never had a better opportunity than now!

  • Comment number 8.

    Rory's putting has been good, no question, but I don't think anyone would disagree that he could potentially be out of sight by now.

    Every player has at least one area of their game that doesn't quite match up to the rest & given the excellence of Rory's long game it would be difficult for his putting to be on a par.

    That is not to say that Rory will not be disappointed with not holding more putts & not be looking to improve on this area of the game. Those who don't look to improve don't stay at the top.

  • Comment number 9.

    Doing Ireland proud Rory, keep it up

  • Comment number 10.

    If he plays the golf course, not the field and if he scores 70 or better, he'll almost certainly win.

    Given the way he's played this week, there's no reason he can't do that.

    But he still has to go out and do it.......because if he shoots 75, he'll almost certainly lose......

  • Comment number 11.

    Why must you do this? Why the contrived drama? Why can't this just be a guy winning a Major? Can't we wait until he has a string of two or three really successful years before calling it a "changing of the guard"? Can't we at least wait until he has actually won the damn thing?

    More British talent going down the drain because of an overzealous, hero-deprived media.

  • Comment number 12.

    Has anyone in the British sports media ever heard of a saying about counting chickens before they are hatched ?

    Silly me ..a rhetorical question

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm not a big fan of hype but I think these last comments are a bit unfair to Rob. He's talking about "if" he wins there "could" be a changing of the guard.
    McIlroy is a prodigious talent. I can only remember two other Brits who might bear comparison. Nick Faldo had a beautiful Couples like swing as a young man but was inconsistent - it was only when he remodelled it and became a much more functional player that he started to win Majors. The other was Montgomerie who unfortunately lacked the mental strength (away from the Ryder Cup) to win the Majors his talent merited. If McIlroy wins today or any time in the next year or two I think he has a great chance of becoming Britain's winningest (sorry) Major champion. His game certainly has me drooling. The only slight question is his putting, the real all time greats were all great putters.
    For once the (conditional) hype might be justified.

  • Comment number 14.

    i agree, this could be huge for him. if he wins it could well be a changing of the guard - he's that good

    btw, do you guys even know where northern ireland is? sorry to burst your little bubble but mcilroy is oirish

  • Comment number 15.

    I have nothing against McIlroy, but if he wins at Augusta the repercussions may be thoroughly depressing for many people, and I, personally, hope he doesn't. If I had my way, Couples or Cabrera would win. The very idea that a 21 year old could be near to being one of the best golfers in the world diminishes the sport. After all, it's not a sport in which the physical attributes of youth should play a major part as they do in BMX racing or skateboarding. Young people should stick to games which demand quickness of reaction and speed of movement, not golf.

    What's the point of years of practice if whippersnappers like McIlroy can can strut down the fairway 12 or more under par to win a major? Does my lifetime of golfing struggle count for nothing? Have I been kidding myself every time I topped a pitch onto the green by the comforting thought that "i will learn from that..."

    Does experience count for nothing....nothing at all? It's a disgrace.
    If McIlroy wins he will have made a mockery of the game, and I am going to give up all plans to turn professional.

  • Comment number 16.

    he's a fantastic talent ; no doubt. Hopefully he can maintain the composure he's shown from days 1 through 3 ; the pressure will be incredible today.
    Also agree with other comments on the British thing ; do people not know their geography. He's Irish ; if he was English , Scottish or Welch you could call him British.

  • Comment number 17.

    I didn't know that Northern Ireland was part of Great Britain.. In fact its not at all so he is not British just Irish. That would probably be why when, competing in the olympics the team are called Great Britain and Northern Ireland.. If you don't want to call him Irish why not European cause he ain't British!!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    Love it, wonderful go on my son poke them in the eye, small print reads..............
    Horlicks didnt think that would happen...where did that bunker come from..boggies come from noses and other golfers in field.........gosh the ground just swallowed him up and spat him out like a dried up lilly...maybe next time........And I hope that doesnt happen.........Ill watch the highlights after I know the result..dodgy ticker and all that so keep your head down son and swing merrily away....

  • Comment number 19.

    @ 14 and @ 16

    You mean NI is not on the mainland? Really? I never knew that.
    UKish doesn't really roll off the tongue though does it?

    @15 lmao ... don't give up, I'm still practising ... sure to get my card by the time I'm 50!!

  • Comment number 20.

    He is playing fantastic golf from tee to green and I hope he can keep it up. I think he knows how to deal with the pressure now even though he is so young, but time will tell. He is certainly at a turning point in his career now being in such a position and I feel we will certainly see him wearing a green jacket, hopefully it will be this year..

  • Comment number 21.

    @19 what? "ukish"? no, just irish is fine. or northern irish or european. jeez. not the time or place but annoying

  • Comment number 22.

    Dear Mongo101,

    In golf you are European so not only will it be a great victory for Northern Ireland but in this sport more importantly for Europe.

  • Comment number 23.

    A small point in the Lads favour...if I was playing in the final round 4 shots in front with it all to lose, then my playing partner would be Angel Cabrera. Yes he is in it to win as well but I can see him acting as a stablising father figure to the lad. No tips or advice just being there and quietly keeping the lid on it all.

  • Comment number 24.

    @15: can only hope you are messing! McIlroy has more experience then many in the upper levels of the game. He's played Walker Cup, Ryder Cup and professional events since he was 14. Has more experience in final days in major based on last year alone than others in the the top ten. Don't be distracted by his age, this guy is awesome and while I agree that overhyping it and calling him to break Jacks major record is crazy he is still the only person Harrington said he would pay money to watch. And that was still while he was an amateur! I've met him a couple of times and my sister was on Darren Clarke camps with him. Nice, solid quiet lad! Best of luck Rors!

  • Comment number 25.

    as there seems to be some confusion here over Rorys nationality here. Let me explain (as a N.Ireland man). Nothern Ireland is a strange little place. Yes it IS essentially part of Britain (currency is GBP, not euro here). I, for example, have a British passport (as do many of my fellow countrymen). So therefore it is perfectly correct to class Rory as British.

    However.....having said that, many of us, feel we have 'dual identities', and lots of Northern Ireland citizens will also class ourselves as Irish (born on the island of Ireland). Equally many of us here also have Irish passports. There are a mass of sensitive issues here, due to our history, but to keep it simple -

    yes, it is correct to call Rory British, but it also also fine to class him as Irish as well. Maybe we are lucky here, with our dual identities. I'm sure he would concur with what I am saying

  • Comment number 26.

    He's Northern Irish, hence the Northern Irish flag when he plays.

  • Comment number 27.

    @25 no. it is up to the individual. not the media. or the pundits. if you live in NI and consider yourself british, then good for you. many people (about 50%) live in NI and consider themselves 100% irish. i really don't want to get into this here. but get it right. don't call him british (have you ever heard him say so? - no) just say NIish or european (or irish, if he says so)

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    Rory has played brilliantly over the first 3 days. If his putter was working better then he would have been out of sight and heading for a Woods-esque win in 1997. But one wouldn't snub a 4 shot lead at any major.

    As for the Irish/British debate - N Irish people can be British, Irish or both. Rory probably considers himself both, but he has gone on record saying that he will probably compete for Britain in the Olympics and therefore can be called British. As to those who say Northern Ireland people can not be called British because Northern Ireland is not in Britiain are not distibguishing between geography and nationality. "British" refers to people from the UK, and since N Ireland is in the UK, N Irish people who consider themselves citizens of the UK can be called "British." It's like saying that people on the Isle of Wight are not "British" because the Isle of Wight is not actually in Great Britain.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi, I had the pleasure of playing 18 holes with Rory and he was a most pleasent lad. He showed tremendous promise and his swing was prefect even though I was out driving him ( maybe I should add that he was 10 at the time and had just won his first World Golf chamiponship!!.)
    I will be rooting for him tonight and can only hope that the pressure of the occasion doesn't get to him. As he and I are (northern) Irish I will be shouting "common ya boy ya" at the TV.

  • Comment number 31.

    @28 true colors shown

  • Comment number 32.

    Regarding the Irish/British issue. I am from NI living in the south. But let me tell you all this!! Rory is from Holywood, Co. Down. He's from Northern Ireland and that's it. The rest of you, Keep your grubby mitts off him!!
    Not since Alex, Georgie or even Barry has NI had this kind of sporting achievement to be proud of, and we rightfully are.
    Give 'em hell for NI Rory!

  • Comment number 33.

    If he loses tonight, he'll be Irish. Strange how in the media he is being called British all of a sudden whilst he's leading.

  • Comment number 34.

    Finding all these comments slating people for not knowing their geography highly amusing. Especially as they themselves have no clue what they're talking about! But then what would I know, I'm only a Northern Irishman with a British passport living 3 miles away from Holywood, the home of wee Rors

  • Comment number 35.

    @29 not true. many people would compete for any country if it meant competing in the olympics. i don't want to speak for the lad but i'm pretty sure i know what nationality he considers himself

  • Comment number 36.

    OMG ... who complained?
    Don't you guys get bored with writing the same boring drivel over and over again. This is supposed to be about golf not ancient history. So many blog comments columns get taken over by your small minded provincialism. Read comment 25 by one of your own. If you could get those chips off your shoulders you might be a little happier people. Can we please talk about the golf?

  • Comment number 37.

    Misoramen- I'm pretty sure you don't know but let's get back to the golf. It would be amazing for Nireland to hold 50% of the majors after today, especially after waiting so long to get one in the bag since the days of Fred Daly

  • Comment number 38.

    @36 you started it. happier people? who?

  • Comment number 39.

    @37 well it doesn't or shouldn't matter anyway.

    but yes, pity darren clarke never got one. he is my hero

  • Comment number 40.

    Let's all get over the nationality thing. Let's just enjoy the fact that Rors is a great player and that he is part of a great international field with a chance to win the Masters

  • Comment number 41.

    @39 - crying shame that DC never quite made the grade in major championships. I was at Troon when he went very close in 97 (I think), spent most of the day just following the scoreboard praying for DC not to blow it.

  • Comment number 42.

    By the way my moderated comment was meant to be a pointed joke against the (in my mind neanderthal) comment makers and not in any way against the Irish or N Irish people. I am in no way proud of my imperialistic forefathers.
    Returning to the golf I think Choi is Rory's biggest threat and perhaps Donald (who has probably played the best golf since Friday). Having watched Rory's post round interview at masters.com I think Rory is mentally ready and that's over half the battle, I think (and hope) he'll do it.

  • Comment number 43.

    @41 yeah, amazing for NI - all these guys from a tiny little place. and so many others. but yeah, DC is the king - brilliant and such a nice guy. still hope he'll get it back - he shows glimpses now and then

    anyway, mcilroy hasn't won it yet, by any means. he's 8/11 on oddschecker which is very stingy, i think

  • Comment number 44.

    Right people lets get this straight as a professional golfer Rory is under the jurisdiction of the Golfing Union of Ireland which covers all 4 provences,in the world cup of golf both Rory and GMac had to play under the flag of the Irish Republic totally wrong in my opinion .He did have the flag of Northern Ireland drapped over his shoulders after the Ryder Cup victory just to make sure people remembered were he was born, he is proud of his birth place and rightly so . His talent was honed in both Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland golf coures a lot of people supported him and did not care were he was born.Like Rory I was born in Northern Ireland we are British whether peolple like or not. Our currency is GBP sterling, we have MP`s in the houses of parliament and the majority of people are loyal to the Queen we serve in the British Army. It may change in the future but at present we are British, but does it really matter as long as he hold`s it together

  • Comment number 45.

    My European Union passport was issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland.
    As my compatriot Mr Woosnam hasn't yet recovered his Masters form I'll be quite happy to raise a pint of the dark stuff in celebration tonight though!

  • Comment number 46.

    Rory is doing all proud in Ireland/Northern Ireland.

    For an island with such a small population we have some good golfers at present - McDowell, Harrington and now McIlroy. Hopefully he can join the other two in getting his hands on a major!

    The Irish/British debate reminds me of when the British & Irish Lions were always just known as the British Lions! Lol. Rory is Irish or Northern Irish - either way we're all delighted for him.

  • Comment number 47.

    misoramen - I have a feeling you don't live here in Northern Ireland, and it is quite common for people living elsewhere not to grasp the complexities of this place.
    You say not to call Rory british, well I can bet my boots he is the holder of a British passport (like I am) and in that case, has every right to call himself British or indeed for others to refer to him as British (as strictly speaking they will be correct). My home if you must know, is in fact about one mile from Holywood (where he grew up). So I have reasonable knowledge of what I am talking about.

  • Comment number 48.

    o leave it. you people just don't get it

  • Comment number 49.

    I live in County Down the same wee county as our Rory, i call my self Irish. Ifyou ask Rory the same question he would say northern irish. We are both Roman Catholic the only difference being that Rory has been brought up in a mainly protestant araea and has many ties with the protestant community but lets be Frank here he doesnt want to offend the people he grew up with at Holywood Golf course or Sullivan Upper, hes a good guy who just wants to play Golf, i think his religion is a good indicator to what his true nationality is. So lay off those who dont live in NI and therefore dont understand the minefield of problems that this question poses for him. Ok peps!!!!!

  • Comment number 50.

    misoramen - the people who live in Northern Ireland and have commented here, 'DO get it'! It's YOU, as someone who lives elsewhere, that 'doesn't get it' .

  • Comment number 51.

    omg. religion. just don't call him british. easy

  • Comment number 52.

    @50 i lived in belfast most of my life

  • Comment number 53.

    The way I decide on whether I would like a person to win is their attitude to the game and to life. When I see a player scowl or get angry for misplacing a shot I ask 'why? You're earning millions of pounds to hit a ball on a fantastic golf course!' Tiger Woods being a fine example. I also get that from Colin Montgomerie. My vote is for Luke Donald :)

  • Comment number 54.

    so who do you think will win the us masters this year?

    i think young rory mcilroy has a grand chance if he doesn't bottle it

  • Comment number 55.

    Hi all,

    Rocky - still not quite sure why writing about the first-round leader after the first round is 'nonsense'.

    Waldovski, theboganpimpernal - it's hardly hype (thanks for your backing Mattlehagi!) - it's a tale about a young man possibly about to take a giant step in his career & life. I shouldn't think he'll be paying too much attention to what was written about him last night anyway. And I couldn't have been more explicit in saying it's not in the bag yet. PS Anyone just want to talk about golf?

  • Comment number 56.

    Rory is playing terrific golf, he is fearless and long with his superb high draws with his driver, mostly eschewing the 3 wood that others favour. His putting is solid without being spectacular and he comes across as a nice bloke - touching to see his mate G mac following him around and supporting him.

    But to whom does Rory belong ?

    Clearly it is Sir Monty !!!!!

    Monty has only mentioned the Ryder Cup and "his" team about 97 times during the course of his commentary !

  • Comment number 57.

    monty would like to adopt the whole ryder cup team and live in a big house in scotland

  • Comment number 58.

    @55 no ... thank you Rob, a series of excellent masters blogs especially the "Who will win?" intro ... just sorry I mentioned his nationality!
    @56 yes I feel kind of sorry for him, but it is funny.

    If Rory maintains his composure he will win going away. 69,70 last two rounds and barely holed a putt. He's playing as well tee to green as I can ever remember seeing (Tom Watson -Open '09 was at a similar level and even more remarkable). It's a big if though.
    It's also very important for a potentially great player to get that first Major win as quickly as possible. The longer it takes the harder it gets ... just ask Monty or Andy Murray - two fine Englishmen by the way ;-)

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    Mont is a complicated character to use a euphemism.

    But he has some nice catch phrases - Faldo has the habit of never finishing a sentence - Monty has the habit of repeating words or short phrases twice, without it being a stutter.

    I take it the action will be gripping tonight, but should it slip at all, just tick off the number of times Sir Mont says "so called", "if you like", "Ryder Cup" and "my team" and then repeats them.

    Let's cheer on Rory though, his long game has been fantastic and uninhibited, fantastic and uninhibited (a Montyism!)

  • Comment number 61.

    Sad that this needs to be cleared up.
    The british isles are not just great britain. They include ireland as well on a geographical basis.
    Being british does not preclude him being irish anymore than it does someone being scottish, english or welsh. Due to politics though it has more connotations than usual.
    It is not incorrect to call Rory British, Irish, Northern Irish or an Ulsterman and he would probably identify himself quite happily as any of those. So if he's happy to be indentified as british then that is his choice.

    Can we concentrate on the golf now?

  • Comment number 62.

    If we look beyond the hoped for Rory romp then it becomes an incredibly open contest. None of the guys at -8 or -7 (except a previously out of form Cabrera) have Major wins under their belt, so there is no guarantee one of this group will tear it up.
    It's not unreasonable to think a score as high as -10 might win (if Rory struggles of course). This brings everyone down to -3, specifically Mickelson and maybe Westwood into it.
    Agree/disagree anyone?

  • Comment number 63.

    @61 you just don't get it do you? it may noy be incorrect but it is wrong. you don't know how happily he identifies himself so don't presume. can you "concentrate on the golf now"? that is as polite as i can be

  • Comment number 64.

    "To McIlroy's generation, Woods is the icon, the man they watched as kids, the man who changed the sport. They could be about to get their own icon." That doesn't really make sense. You've just said they've already 'got' their own icon. Sloppy sentence construction, especially so high in the article.

  • Comment number 65.

    It is amazing how many people are determined to whitewash people with British leaning sensibilities from Northern Ireland. Cultural Imperialism?

    As far as I am concerned British and Irish are not mutually exclusive. You can be English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish, but the thing we all share in common is our Britishness.

    Go on Rory, forget everyone from the Republic and Britain trying to claim you, we're all proud you're from Northern Ireland.

    Keep 'er lit, wee man!

  • Comment number 66.

    @62 yeah, if mcilroy blows it - which is very possible (remember the shark against faldo) it's wide open

  • Comment number 67.

    It amuses me that some people here are so arrogant that they are telling him what nationality he is. He has said he would represent Great Britain in the 2016 Olympics. There is your answer so get off the guys case.

    Of course he is from the island of Ireland and is 100 per cent Northern Irish but he feels more affinity towards Britain than Republic. He has said this himself. It is staggeringly stupid for people here to start questioning it.

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    i love golf. i play to 14. (oh ok then 16) but i love sport.

    nationalism, racism, capitalism and many other isms are our downfall. but sport is not.

    sport is real. that's why we love it

  • Comment number 70.

    why was my comment removed?

  • Comment number 71.

    Misoramen - to be fair you started this whole thing really with your post at (14&27), with your insistance that he should not be called British. Then you went on to strangely contradict yourself later by stating to another poster - quote - "you don't know how happily he identifies himself so don't presume. "

    Exactly, so don't presume yourself. He can class himself as whatever he wishes, so don't 'presume' he would not like to be called british.

    I don't care, he is from N.Ireland and thats good enough for me. Whatever he decides to class himself is up to him. It's not for us to insist it has to be one or the other.

  • Comment number 72.

    i said @61 you just don't get it do you? it may noy be incorrect but it is wrong. you don't know how happily he identifies himself so don't presume. can you "concentrate on the golf now"? that is as polite as i can be

  • Comment number 73.

    why did you remove that?

  • Comment number 74.

    I really, really can't explain why, but I've got a feeling Ross Fisher is going to stick a 65 or 66 in tonight, get in the clubhouse, and watch with increasing interest what happens to McIlroy, Cabrera, Westwood and co over the closing holes. No-one, even in the British press, has even mentioned Ross this week, but I can picture him nicking it in much the same way Ben Curtis came out of the pack to win the '03 Open.

  • Comment number 75.

    soory this is all pathetic, Number 49,,,to actually bring his religion into anything is totally ridiculous. this small minded biggotry reminds me why I left Belfast 30 years ago. ,,get over it. tell me what religion are eh follwoing, Pele. Michael Jordan, Jack Nicklaus, Wayne Gretsky, who ever asks or labels anyone as an identity by tgheir religion??? only small minded northern Irish people who cant get out of their little bubb;e of biggotry, why cant you just watch the little genius at work and take pride that he is from our island. we have had little oevr the years to cheer so lets just rejoice..

  • Comment number 76.

    @71 zzzzz. don't presume. don't presume he is british. zzzzz. please stop now. i'm tired. call him european. please stop. leave me alone. i'm so tired. and hungry. and way smarter than you. it hurts

  • Comment number 77.

    rogin sorry Fisher is a choker and hasn't got the talent, journeyman pro, everyone knows it thats why he aint mentioned

  • Comment number 78.

    Being from Norn Iron I will be a very proud Northern Iishman if Rory can hold on to win. If he wins we will have two major winners both from such a small country!!!! That's some achievement in itself. Whether Rory considers himself British or Irish, he does play under the Northern Ireland flag and thats good enough for me. Come on Rory I know you can do it!!

  • Comment number 79.

    @64 The meaning is clear you pedant. Woods is an icon "to" them. McIlroy can become the first icon "among" them.

    @63 No fair minded person who read my original post (13) would have taken offence. Many among your own - N Irish - have already tried to distance themselves from your comments and are generally accepting of the fact that Rory is (among other things) British.
    I have two things to say to you.
    Firstly these kind of arguments are out of place here and detract from the pleasure of taking part in or reading these comment columns. They also occur over and over again making them even more annoying.
    Secondly and more importantly they are inflammatory and counterproductive. While I get the feeling that here on a golf blog they are probably pretty harmless that is not always the case.
    On, for example, a football blog (I'm a big football fan but realistically the readership/commenters are a different societal group) these kind of comments just go to further the anti Irish feeling of our own English idiots and further reinforce negative nationalistic tendencies. By so doing they put back further the hoped for day when peace and harmony will characterise the relationship between our peoples.
    Think before you rant!

  • Comment number 80.

    hey rob : why did you remove my #68 comment which was :

    "you just don't get it do you? it may noy be incorrect but it is wrong. you don't know how happily he identifies himself so don't presume. can you "concentrate on the golf now"? that is as polite as i can be"

    your friend mattlehagi said some seriously nasty stuff. but you support him?

  • Comment number 81.

    @69 yes.yes,yes!

  • Comment number 82.

    i agree, it is detracting from this sports blog which is sad. Hope we can put the issue to bed now

  • Comment number 83.

    @79 so I'm the bad guy? haha. you are wrong. and arrogant. you started this and you can't finish it because you are a bigot. and not very smart

  • Comment number 84.

    I bow to your fair minded wisdom

  • Comment number 85.

    i love golf

    mattlehagi told the "losers" in ireland to "watch out" before "he sent" cromwell over again

  • Comment number 86.

    all we need now is for Darren Clarke to spend the next three months Playing round Royal St Georges and practising til his hands bleed and win The Open Championship. We will be made up...Come on GMAC, MACCA and DAZZA and of course our leader Padraig!!!!!!

  • Comment number 87.

    ok enough. we're done. mcilroy is not british

  • Comment number 88.

    It was a light hearted comment aiming at shutting YOU up ... some chance

  • Comment number 89.

    misoramen, noone actually called McIlroy British, they just said that he could call himself British if he wanted to. It's down to the individual's choice. Anyway, good luck to him, he certainly has the ability, and years ahead of him.

  • Comment number 90.

    I thought you said you were now 'tired and hungry' Misoramen? Yes, we all agree, you are so much smarter than us, we bow to your intellect.

    Now off you go for your McDonalds, then lay down for a wee nap and rest your superior brain, there's a good lad.

  • Comment number 91.

    Maybe the BBC could spend less money on websites, Blogs, "celebrity" and senior staff salaries - and more on actual live programme coverage. That way, I could be watching the darn golf on my TV :-(

  • Comment number 92.

    Very petty of me, but you can't call Rory a "wire to wire" winner if he wins. He was tied after day 1 with Quiros, which would technically make him a "start to finish" winner ! Petty I know, but you get paid for writing this stuff.

  • Comment number 93.

    @ 79

    Actually to us pedants it was a little ambiguous. We're only all on here because we're bored though. One more good round from Rory later and it will be indisputable.

  • Comment number 94.

    @90 "Yes, we all agree" really? who? all?

    you make my point. again.

    i win. you lose

    i'm tired. so tired. and quite hungry

  • Comment number 95.

    @92 petty yes but informative ... I didn't know this and have just been checking on masters.com and apart from the 4 official wire to wire winners there were several who were tied first after round one before breaking clear who, as you rightly point out, don't count as wire to wire ... thank you

  • Comment number 96.

    @95 how do you feel now?

  • Comment number 97.

    invigorated?

    ok, sorry, back to business - go rory!

    and like i said - good article - this really could be mcilroy's time. he has already missed a few. this could bbe the big one. and after this it's easy

    or he could crumble

  • Comment number 98.

    Rory will do it tonight

    He drives long, straight, and does not 3 putt like the Tiger.

    You make me so proud to be from Northern Ireland. Rory nationality is irrelavent to the uneducated if it was not for N I there would be no UK. Rory like myself is Irish but a British Citizen just like Monty Scotlands best who is Scottish but a British Cit. Please lets support NI finest and make our weeee country Proud.

    Scottyboy

  • Comment number 99.

    Who cares about the small print of his nationality? This is golf, so he's European; and for that reason, I hope he's wearing the green jacket in about 6 hours time. Good luck, Rory.

  • Comment number 100.

    He said he wants to represent Great Britain in the 2016 Olympics. Conversation is closed.

 

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