Glory For Rory: Much Needed Hero Wins Open

What a story, Rory.

We all need heroes, and just now we needed one quite badly.

The British sporting summer has been a tale of crushed expectations, from England finishing bottom of a World Cup group topped by Costa Rica, through a crashing end to Andy Murray’s Wimbledon title defence, to Chris Froome tumbling out of the Tour de France on a slippy, sodden fifth stage near the Belgian border.

This very weekend, England’s cricketers are hurtling towards another rudderless defeat at Lord’s.

And this with the news bulletins dominated by innocents being shot from the sky, apparently by rebels with a cause and a surface-to-air missile.

Into all this steps a slightly gawky looking 25-year old from Northern Ireland, with a golfing talent to make his rivals weep.

If it was all about talent, Rory McIlroy might well already have more than two major titles in his bag.

Both his US Open (2011) and USPGA (2012) triumphs came by massive margins.

Since then, “stuff” has got in the way somewhat.

Changing everything is dangerous, and so it proved. New management company, new sponsorship deal (with Nike, securing him enough riches to make him swoon without any requirement to lift a club), new clubs.

He even got his tee-time wrong at the last Ryder Cup; but for a police escort, Europe’s famous comeback victory (“the Miracle of Medina”) would never have happened.

And his on-off relationship with former world tennis number one Caroline Wozniacki took his eye off the golf ball (for all his protestations to the contrary). It all ended in tears in May, days after wedding invitations were sent out.

But class tells.

His two-shot victory at Hoylake makes him only the third golfer in history to win three of the four majors by the age of 25.

The others were Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. McIlroy is in that territory now.

I asked spectators arriving in pouring rain at Hoylake yesterday who they most wanted to see. The first said McIlroy, the second Woods.

If McIlroy keeps the rest of his life in shape, he can be a colossus bestriding the sporting landscape for 20 years – albeit at 5 foot 8 (bringing forth Wozniacki’s catty Instagram comment last week that she could now wear high heels for the first time in three years).

The 1969 Open Champion, Tony Jacklin, told Sky News this weekend : “There’s so much in life that can happen to derail anybody.

“The people surrounding you can bring you down. You’ve got to weave through those situations in life. Stay well, stay healthy and protect yourself.

“The sky is the limit for this lad.”

His dad saw all this coming. Gerry McIlroy scoops 50,000 from a bet he placed 10 years ago that his boy would win the Open by the age of 25.

But here’s the final twist.

If McIlroy was tempted to tweet his ex along the lines of “Stick your high heels on that”, hours before his win, she won a title of her own, the Istanbul Cup.

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