McIlroy up to world No.2 after British Open victory

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Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy holds the Claret Jug as he poses for a photograph after winning the 2014 British Open Golf Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Course in Hoylake, north west England. AFP PHOTO

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy holds the Claret Jug as he poses for a photograph after winning the 2014 British Open Golf Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Course in Hoylake, north west England. AFP PHOTO

HOYLAKE, United Kingdom: Rory McIlroy is the new world number two after his dramatic British Open victory on Sunday at Royal Liverpool lifted him six places in the rankings.

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Australia’s Adam Scott keeps the number one spot after finishing in a tie for fifth with countryman Marc Leishman on 12 under, five shots behind the Northern Irishman.

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson drops to number three while Justin Rose of England is fourth and Spaniard Sergio Garcia climbs from ninth to fifth.

American Bubba Watson, who missed the cut this weekend, drops two spots to sixth, his compatriot Matt Kuchar also falls to seven and Australia’s Jason Day takes eighth place moving up two spots.

American duo Tiger Woods, who endured his worst ever British Open with a six over par score, and Jim Furyk complete the top ten.

McIlroy won his first European Tour event at the Dubai Desert Classic in 2009 which took him to 16th in the world rankings.

Mark O’Meara, who played with him on that occasion was moved to comment: “Ball-striking wise at 19, he’s probably better than Tiger was at 19. His technique, I think, is better

McIlroy also started to make his mark on the US PGA circuit and in May 2010 he recorded his first win on US soil by firing a final-round course record of 62 to take the Quail Hollow Championship.

But it was at the majors that he needed to shine most and with Woods at that time hobbled by injuries and a sex scandal, the sport was badly in need of a new superstar.

McIlroy looked the part but at a tender age he firstly made the headlines more for his collapses at the 2010 British Open at St Andrews and the 2012 Masters.

In the latter case, he led by four strokes entering the final round but endured a total meltdown in the full blaze of the media spotlight, limping home with an 80.

Rather then brood on that, McIlroy rebounded two months later to win the US Open by a whopping eight strokes. The following year he took the US PGA Championship by the same outlandish margin and he topped the world rankings.

McIlroy’s star suddenly faded in 2013 when he struggled with problems both on and off the golf course.

But a win in the Australian Open late in the year and then a very public split with tennis-playing girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki in May paved the way for the Irishman to once again produce his best golf.

What happened this week at Royal Liverpool proved that McIlroy is the true heir apparent to Woods as the world’s best golfer.

It remains to be seen just how many majors he can win in a competitive career that could last another 25 years.

Close friend and fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell says it should be worth keeping tabs on.

“I can just sort of sit back and admire how good Rory is and we’ll watch from there, really. But third leg of the Grand Slam at 25 years old, it’s pretty good,” he said.

AFP

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