McIlroy hailed by politicians on both sides of Border
RORY McILROY’s second Major success in winning the US PGA tournament in South Carolina at the weekend earned plaudits yesterday from senior politicians on both sides of the Border.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the victory by the 23-year-old from Holywood, Co Down, was “further confirmation of his enormous golfing talent and a clear signal that he has the potential to become one of the greats of the game”.
He added: “Irish golf is going through an amazing period of success and Rory is at the vanguard of that charge.”
First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness described McIlroy’s achievement as “stunning”, with Mr Robinson saying he was a wonderful ambassador for Northern Ireland and his sport.
“After winning his first Major golf title last year, Rory McIlroy has now become the first golfer from Northern Ireland to win a second Major title. His golfing talent knows no bounds and who knows what he may go on to achieve in his sporting career,” he said.
Mr McGuinness said McIlroy had “bounced back” from what was a somewhat indifferent season by his own high standards with an amazing victory in the last of the 2012 Majors. “This is the sign of a true champion,” he said.
The North’s Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Carál Ní Chuilín, said his victory was the “crowning moment in a stunning sporting fortnight”.
Minister for Tourism Arlene Foster said McIlroy’s win, combined with the recent success of the Irish Open, which saw record-breaking crowds through the gates of Royal Portrush, “highlights how golf is continuing to offer Northern Ireland global exposure”.
Referring to the Major achievements of Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke, she added, “the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Tourism Ireland are both working to make the most of the opportunities that our local stars are creating, to encourage the world to see for themselves why we are the home of champions”.
Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said McIlroy was the first Northern Ireland golfer to win two Majors, “and who knows where it will end, because he has shown again this weekend he has the same ability as Tiger Woods at his peak, to blow away the best of the rest”.
With the successes of Northern Ireland competitors at the Olympics, this had been a “truly wonderful fortnight for local sport”.
The challenge was now for the sports and tourism departments to build on the tremendous momentum and goodwill generated.
North Down Alliance Assembly member Stephen Farry said that “all around the world, people are talking about this victory and his home country which can only be a good thing for golfers coming and visiting Northern Ireland.
“With the recent success of the Irish Open being hosted by Royal Portrush, I am sure that this victory will again make Northern Ireland the golfing capital of the world,” he added.