OPINION: Padraig Harrington says Rory McIlroy can challenge Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors. Mark O'Meara says he's a better ball striker than Tiger Woods at the same age. Others have compared the kid from Holywood to Seve or Arnold Palmer. In a world of superlatives, the bounceful Celtic Tigger is now the ultimate in hype and glory.
Nicklaus said: "He's ahead – and his score is way ahead of my pace. I think this kid's going to have a great career. He's humble when he needs to be humble and confident when he needs to be confident. I like his moxie – he's cocksure. You've got to have that."
Nicklaus was 22 years and 143 days when he won his first major in 1962. Seve was 22 and 100 days when he won the 1979 Open. McIlroy was 22 and 46 days when he became the youngest man to win the US Open since a 21-year-old amateur genius called Bobby Jones won in 1923.
Already McIlroy's record-breaking victory has created a green monster that could consume the kid. When Harrington predicted that McIlroy could beat Jack's magic number of 18, McIlroy murmured: "Oh Paddy, Paddy, Paddy," with his head in his hands.
Back home, McIlroy has been called the biggest thing to come out of Northern Ireland since George Best. The Northern Ireland tourist board is already pushing to have the Open Championship brought to its shores on the back of the US Open success of McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.
I have long supported the cause, well before the double success of the SuperMacs. The Royal and Ancient cavils about road access, accommodation and spare ground for all the merchandising tents. But where there's a will there's a way. Royal St George's, the venue for this year's open, has many of the same problems and copes pretty well.
The R&A has already brought the open back to Liverpool in recent years. How wonderful it would be if it were to continue its progressive ways and take the championship to Royal Portrush. It is a great links around which McDowell grew up and where a 16-year-old McIlroy blew away the course record with a preposterous round of 61 in 2005.
Already he was a superstar around Belfast. Now he is a superstar around the world. The danger of wearing an afro wig to a retro seventies party these days is that some people might think you have come as Rory McIlroy.
Johnny Miller called it "the best swing in golf"'. Sally Jenkins, writing in the Washington Post, said the ease of McIlroy's swing made you want to throw your teaching pro in the lake. The Europeans have known all that for a while. We also knew that Rory couldn't putt.
He was the best amateur player by a mile, but he finished second and third far too often because of his flaky putting. When he turned pro, McIlroy missed a putt of not much more than a foot when poised to win in Switzerland. The wrecks at the Masters and St Andrews, when the kid couldn't even break 80, foundered on the rocks of his putting.
What happened at Congressional – or Processional as one British scribe dubbed it – was that the kid finally learned to putt. Dave Stockton has given him a method that McIlroy has consumed at a prodigious pace. Miller even called it "the best-looking stroke I've ever seen".
Another superlative. The good news is that McIlroy has been dealing with the media since he was six. He will not be corroded by fame like Woods. He has a lovely mum and dad and is the kindliest sports superstar I have ever met.
He also knows too well what happened to his hero. A self-confessed "Tiger anorak", McIlroy once completed a round at the Dubai Desert Classic and then slung a camera on his shoulder and borrowed a photographer's bib in order to follow the great man. That was before the Fall.
Rory was always like that. I first saw him at the Forest of Arden in 2006. After he had played his round, Rory walked hand in hand with girlfriend Holly, watching the senior pros. He still has some of that starry-eyed innocence and calls Ryo Ishikawa his hero these days.
Of course McIlroy was polite about TW when the American media wanted the Woods follow-up to Monday's victory. But his heart wasn't in it. The Celtic Tigger's game is all about joy. Bounce up to the ball, then grip it and rip it. "No Fear", says the kid. It seems that the spirit of Seve lives on.
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