Rory McIlroy first of all banished his Friday demons, his second round every bit as good as his brilliant opener. After that he continued to play sublime golf, and on Sunday evening the young man from Co Down was crowned British Open champion, the fourth Irishman to take what is arguably the sport’s greatest accolade.
Fred Daly was first from this country on to the honours list in the late 1940s, and was followed by Padraig Harrington, who, after winning at Carnoustie in 2007, came back 12 months later and scored again, this time at Royal Birkdale. Darren Clarke’s highly emotional win came at Royal St George’s three years ago.
Going into this year’s tournament, McIlroy had this penchant for failing to put two good early round scores together hanging over him. It had happened to him a number of times this season, and when he carded a 66 last Thursday, the big question was how would he fare out the following.
Grand, thank-you-very-much. Another 66 and after that a fine Saturday score to put him four strokes clear with one round remaining. There was only a slight wobble on the last 18; after playing his final shot, he was comfortably ahead, the winner of a third Major following his triumphs in the 2011 US Open and the 2012 US PGA.
McIlroy was earmarked for success from an early age, his precocity in the amateur ranks winning him rave reviews. But it’s one thing being tipped for the top, quite another getting there. That there’s more to come is beyond question; but getting the odds his father traded at a decade ago is most unlikely, regardless of what the young man aims for.
Inside Track got a good run for its money, an each-way punt of second-placed Rickie Fowler (40/1) and Adam Scott (16/1), who finished fifth, yielding a modest return. Third selection, Dustin Johnston (40/1) was also heading for a place until putting in a wild drive on the second-last hole.