Northern Ireland

Rory McIlroy US Open win : "Proud to be a champion"

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Media captionMcIlroy delight after 'best golf' of his life

Northern Ireland golfer Rory McIlroy's success in clinching the US Open championship has been hailed as an "outstanding achievement".

The 22-year-old from Holywood, County Down, broke a series of records as he won his first major title with an eight shot victory.

Now ranked fourth in the world, he is not expected back in Northern Ireland until Wednesday at the earliest.

In a message posted on twitter he said he was "proud to be a major champion".

His triumph follows that of compatriot Graeme McDowell in the same event last year.

During the presentation ceremony McIlroy shouted across to his father Gerry: "Happy Father's Day - this one's for you".

Mr McIlroy said it was hard to put the magnitude of his son's victory into words.

"He has been fantastic," he said.

"After the Masters he worked hard over the last couple of months to get where he is now, it is unbelievable.

"On Father's Day, what a present."

The Northern Ireland First and Deputy First Ministers led the tributes to McIlroy following his victory.

He has also been praised at Westminster and in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Prime Minister David Cameron said McIlroy's win was "tremendous".

"He's an incredible talent and clearly has a very exciting career ahead of him," he added.

Leaving his rivals in his wake, McIlroy became the quickest player in the 111-year history of the US Open to reach 10 under par (after 26 holes).

He was also the first player to go beyond 12 under, reaching as much as 17 under on Sunday, and also recorded the best 36 and 54-hole totals.

He is the third person from Northern Ireland to win a major, as Fred Daly won the Open in 1947.

NI First Minister Peter Robinson said McIlroy's triumph was "one of Northern Ireland's greatest sporting moments".

"Over the past four days Rory played perhaps some of the best golf we have ever witnessed," he said.

"To have led from the first day of the tournament to the last shows a maturity and composure far beyond his years."

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the manner of the Holywood golfer's success was "nothing short of incredible", following his disappointment at the Masters in Augusta in April.

"The manner in which he has conducted himself this weekend, showing tremendous resilience and character following the disappointment of this loss at Augusta, is a tremendous example to us all," he added.

Superstar

"This win follows on from Graeme McDowell's great win last year and I am very pleased to be able to say that our local golfers are among the very best in the world and I have no doubt that both Rory and Graeme will go on to win further Majors."

McDowell also expressed his delight at McIlroy's achievement and said he was the best golfer he had "ever seen".

It is understood Northern Ireland golfer Darren Clarke has withdrawn from this week's European Tour event in Munich because he wants to be at the homecoming party for McIlroy.

"He's potentially the next Tiger Woods - he's that good," McDowell said.

"It's great to see him out there fulfilling his potential.

"He's been groomed to be a superstar and he'll handle it very well.

"It's not a monkey off his back, it's a gorilla.

"He could go on and do some big things.

"He's a breath of fresh air for the game and perhaps we're ready for golf's next superstar and maybe Rory is it."

The Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, described McIlroy's victory as "emphatic and inspiring".

"Rory led from the front and his record breaking victory stands as one of the great achievements in any sport," he said.

"I'm sure this will be the first of many major golfing achievements Rory will attain in what I'm sure will be a long and stellar career."

McIlroy, the youngest US Open champion since Bobby Jones in 1923, said he had set his sights on winning more majors after his maiden triumph in Maryland.

Nicklaus

"To get my first major out of the way quite early on in my career, especially after what's happened the last couple of months, feels great," he said.

"Now, I'm looking forward to putting myself in the picture for many more."

Golfing legend Jack Nicklaus, winner of 18 majors, is among those who have tipped McIlroy for further glory.

"I think this kid's going to have a great career - I don't think there's any question about it," he said.

BBC golf commentator Peter Alliss said McIlroy's progress was "remarkable".

"One tends to forget that he is still only 22," he said.

"He played absolutely wondrously well and it was a joy to see the crowds rising to him.

"He played with such grace and style.

"He has a long way to travel, but I think he will travel it very well."

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