Rory McIlroy’s golfing story is very much an organic one; from a toddler with a plastic golf club mimicking his father’s swing, to his ascent through the amateur ranks, turning professional and ultimately becoming the international golfing superstar he is today.
Unsure of what should be done with his young son’s golfing obsession, Gerry McIlroy invited Holywood Golf Club’s then professional, Michael Bannon, to help steer Rory in the right direction. Yet there was no master plan or grand scheme to create a golfing superstar; it was simply an offer of guidance and support to help a wildly enthusiastic boy pursue a dream. Today, more than twenty years on, Michael Bannon remains Rory’s coach and is the architect of one of golf’s most enviable, fluid swings.
Barely old enough to be a member of his local golf club, Rory put in the hours on the range and around the greens, practicing until his young hands could no longer feel the club. The idea of him as a child prodigy or ‘golf’s next big thing’ was given some substance when at just nine years of age, he claimed the under-10 World Championship in Doral, Florida.
Official World Golf Ranking
Ryder Cup Record
With a confident swagger and singular determination, Rory moved into his teenage years gathering silverware, accolades and a growing respect amongst the game’s elite. A bounty of Irish and European amateur titles was followed by double wins with Nick Faldo’s youth golf series and a Silver Medal for the lowest amateur score at the Open Championship of 2007.
Later the same year, he reached the top of the World Amateur Rankings and made a Walker Cup appearance at Royal County Down - his home county - rounding off an amateur journey few could equal.
In a typically assertive manner, Rory embraced the professional circuit, becoming the youngest golfer to secure his European Tour card. A number of disappointments and near misses were part of a steep learning curve before he claimed his first European Tour title in the Dubai Desert Classic early in 2009.
Total Career Wins
A PGA Tour victory followed at Quail Hollow in 2010, highlighting Rory’s transferrable skills and talent, while he quietly amassed World Ranking points and demanded the attention of golf’s hierarchy.
While still pursuing his first Major victory, Rory had another reality check at the 2011 Masters. With what appeared to be an unassailable lead on day four, it slipped away as Augusta National’s unforgiving nature cruelly punished any errant shot or a slight lapse in concentration.
Showing little scar tissue from that hard-learned lesson, just two months later Rory went on to claim his first Major with the US Open at Congressional Country Club, Maryland. His 16-under total – which ensured an eight-shot victory – remains the lowest total score in the history of the tournament.
A second Major followed in 2012 with a further two secured in 2014. Rory now joined the illustrious company of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the world’s only three golfers to have won four Major titles by age twenty-five.
His global tournament wins – including the World Matchplay, three Race to Dubai titles and two FedEx Cup victories – now number in the twenties. With a stellar Ryder Cup pedigree, Rory has proved to be both a team player and inspirational leader in three of four European Ryder Cup wins since his first appearance at Celtic Manor in 2010.
This is a glimpse into one of golf’s most exciting, organic stories, an evolving narrative in the company of the game’s most creative, dynamic and popular ambassadors – and one admired for being himself.