Northern Ireland

Rory McIlroy a sporting sensation - Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness

US PGA Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Rory McIlroy raced up the 18th hole to beat the fading light, sealing victory at 8.45pm local time

Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers have described Rory McIlroy as "a sporting sensation" after his US PGA Championship victory.

The Holywood, County Down, golfer became the first UK player to win back-to-back majors after his victory at Valhalla, Kentucky, on Sunday.

At one stage of his final round, McIlroy was three shots behind the leader.

In a joint statement Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness congratulated him.

"Rory has played stunning golf to claim his fourth major title," they said.

"He is a sporting sensation and joins an impressive list of champions to win back-to-back majors.

"We are incredibly proud to watch as he writes his story of golfing greatness and we look forward to the next chapter as these victories propel him towards being the golfer of his generation."

'Extraordinary local sportsman'

Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín said McIlroy was in "dominant form".

"He is an extraordinary local sportsman who is playing his way into the history books," she said.

"As he enjoys his latest tournament win, I wish him continued success in his quest for golf's career grandslam."

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said McIlroy had taken another step towards greatness and had "once again shown the world what is great about Northern Ireland golf".

"It should make us very proud that six of the last 19 major championships have been won by golfers from Northern Ireland," she said.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Rory McIlroy celebrates victory with caddie JP Fitzgerald

"This will give golfers of all abilities even more reason to travel to Northern Ireland to find out for themselves what makes our golf courses the home of major champions."

Ulster Unionist sports spokesman Michael McGimpsey also praised the Holywood golfer.

"The whole of Northern Ireland will enjoy watching this 25-year-old write his own scripts in a fabulous future for many years to come," he said.

"Rory's talent is recognised on the world stage, he is the world number one, he is one of the most popular golfers on the circuit, a credit to his family and a great ambassador for Northern Ireland."

SDLP assembly member Karen McKevitt said that McIlroy's victory sealed his status as a legend of the game.

"I, like many others, stayed up until the small hours of the morning to watch Rory claim his second major of the summer as he drove, chipped and putted his way to victory in difficult circumstances at the US PGA Championship," she said.

"As Rory reinforces his return to the world number one spot I have no doubt that his dominance of the sport will see golfers flock to courses across the north."

McIlroy's victory has also been celebrated at his home club in Holywood.

Club general manager Paul Gray described the win as "legendary stuff".

"To see someone who has grown up here on our own course do well is fantastic," he said.

"To do what Rory has done is hard to believe, at times you have to pinch yourself."

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