LONDON: Ryder Cup star Rory McIlroy hopes to cap an already stellar year by marking his father’s 55th birthday on Sunday with victory in the Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.
The Northern Irishman won two of this year’s four major championships, the British Open and US PGA, with the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in between giving McIlroy three tournament victories in three starts — having already lifted the BMW PGA Championship trophy.
Last week saw the world number one star in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory over the United States course at Gleneagles and the 25-year-old McIlroy has remained in Scotland to compete in the pro-am event staged at three venues — the Old Course at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.
“It’s a tournament that I have played well at but never been able to win,” said McIlroy, whose amateur partner is his father Gerry. “I finished third in 2007 (enough to gain his European Tour card in his second event as a professional), second in 2009 and second again in 2011.
“I’ve been close so it would be nice to win, especially as it’s my dad’s 55th birthday on Sunday.
“If we can make the cut in the team event and be able to walk around St Andrews on his birthday and me have a chance to win the tournament as well, it would be very special,” McIlroy added.
McIlroy and Justin Rose were the only two European players to play in all five sessions at Gleneagles last week, Rose finishing as top points scorer with four and McIlroy claiming three with two halves and two wins.
In particular, McIlroy justified his world number one status with a singles thrashing of American young gun Rickie Fowler.
“I felt it was time for me to step up and be one of the leaders of the team, especially after the season I’ve had and being world number one,” McIlroy explained.
“I needed to go out there and set an example and I’m just happy I was able to do that on Sunday.
“Personally my record in the Ryder Cup is important to me. In three Ryder Cups I haven’t been beaten in the singles, I would love to keep that record going throughout my career.
“At the age of 25, to have won four majors and three Ryder Cups nine years younger than anyone else (Tom Watson, this year’s losing US captain, was 34 when he did it), it is something I am very proud of.”