Rory Mcilroy: Rory McIlroy’s No. 1 ranking

March 5, 2012 by staff 

Rory Mcilroy: Rory McIlroy’s No. 1 ranking, I wasn’t entirely convinced Rory McIlroy would become World No. 1 the first time I saw him play. First impressions can be deceiving.

I watched McIlroy lose in the first round of the 2005 British Boys Championship at Royal Liverpool to unheralded English player Graham Benson. McIlroy was 15 at the time, and I figured maybe the hype surrounding him was overblown. It wasn’t.

I knew all about McIlroy before I saw him play. Anyone interested in amateur golf on this side of the pond knew his story. After all, he was hitting 40-yard drives when he was only 2. At 8, he became the youngest full member of Holywood Golf Club, five miles east of Belfast, Northern Ireland. At 9, he won the Under 10 World Championship at Doral. At 11, he shot level par around Holywood’s par-69 layout. Two years later, his handicap was down to scratch.

He played in his first professional event, the 2005 British Masters, at age 15. He won both the West of Ireland and the Irish Amateur Close Championships that year, and smashed the course record at Royal Portrush with an 11-under 61 in the North of Ireland Amateur.

Yet I wondered after his loss to Benson if maybe McIlroy was going to be another kid with lots of talent who wasn’t going to fulfill it. I’ve been around long enough to see many so-called “can’t miss” kids fail to make it.

Of course, it was easy to be impressed by McIlroy’s swing even when he was 15. It was so good that Scottish golf coach Bob Torrance refused to touch it. McIlroy asked Torrance for lessons. Torrance watched him hit 10 balls and said there was no point; Torrance couldn’t improve on something he thought was close to perfect.

Perfect is just what McIlroy has become with his Honda Classic victory.

I soon realized he had the potential to be a future World No. 1 the more I watched him in amateur golf. It soon became evident he was a class apart.

He proved that when he won the silver medal as leading amateur in the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie. He announced himself to the wider world with his flawless opening 68. Soon the world’s top professionals were raving about the young Northern Irish phenomenon. He didn’t disappoint. McIlroy’s rise up the world pecking order has been rapid.

Ian Poulter pronounced McIlroy as different class the first time the Englishman played with him.

“He’s got an extra gear most of us don’t have,” Poulter said. “He can find an extra 25 yards when he needs it. That’s a huge asset to have.”

If McIlroy had a “flaw,” it might have been with his putting. I watched him three-putt the final green in the 2007 Lytham Trophy to lose to Scotland’s Lloyd Saltman. McIlroy did the same on Royal County Down’s 18th green to lose to Billy Horschel in the 2007 Walker Cup.

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