Rory's place

Published Monday, 11 August 2014
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The wind was blowing across the Holywood course on that stretch of golfing holes that wanders along Hazel Wood, down Nuns Walk, past White House through the Valley over Irish Hill to the Clubhouse finish.

And, as I walked, I wondered.

What is it in the air of this place that has made Rory McIlroy the golfing genius who now rules the world?

Built into the Holywood Hills, this is his home club - where it all began.

It's here his game was shaped and honed.

And his coach Michael Bannon has been with him throughout this remarkable journey.

It was in the clubhouse here that I first spoke to Rory in the spring of 2006 and, then, with independent producers, began conversations with Michael Wilson at UTV on making a McIlroy documentary.

'Rory's Game' was shown on June 28 2007 with an extended version on September 6 that same year.

What we were looking at then was a player of huge potential.

He had won the European title and then the silver medal as leading amateur at The Open Championship at Carnoustie.

But did I know - did Michael Wilson know - what we were really looking at in terms of the world talent that has since emerged?

The answer is NO.

We didn't see, we couldn't have seen, the years of play and performance that have now brought him four Major Championships, several stints as World number one and a scrapbook that holds within it those headline winning moments at the Ryder Cup.

In the years from those documentaries in 2007, McIlroy has filled the gap between potential and achievement.

And, on his journey, he is probably only at the beginning of something.

In television commentary over the weekend, Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley identified new, important, pieces in McIlroy's golfing game.

These include that "other gear" that Tiger once had, and that winning something you can now see in his eyes.

He was chasing Fowler, Mickelson and Stenson as they entered that determining and defining back nine at the USPGA Championship, and he found the momentum, the winning mind and the magic of that play at 10, 13 and 17.


And it all started here in Holywood - on the fairways, in the bunkers and on the greens of this place now made famous by Rory's Game.

I now watch him on television, haven't chatted to him for many years but, like many in his hometown, we see this remarkable growth in his game.

This is the player doing what he said he wanted to do - becoming the best of his generation.

His play has lived up to that bold and youthful prediction.

And, as I walked part of the Holywood course this afternoon, the wind and the rain were having their say.

But what if the trees could talk?

What would they tell us about the boy at play on this course many years ago - the boy who has become the man of the golfing game.

© UTV News
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Brian Rowan
Brian Rowan

Brian Rowan is a journalist, author and broadcaster who has reported on the major peace process developments - from ceasefires to political agreements.

Four times he has been a category winner in the Northern Ireland Journalist of the Year awards.

He is the author of four books and a regular commentator on UTV.

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