Rory McIlroy's Breakthrough Moment at Quail Hollow
Post by Golf Writer Kieran Clark
Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy is the archetypal modern golfer. Unquestionably one of the finest drivers of a ball in a generation, his dominance off the tee can eviscerate some of the world's most famed courses. His talent has been honed for more than two decades, with the 27-year-old already well established as one of the finest sportsmen to have ever emerged from the United Kingdom. He is a beacon of success for Northern Ireland.
Having taken the silver medal as a teenager in the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie, McIlroy's first professional victory came in the Dubai Desert Classic in 2009. That was followed up with a strong performance at the U.S. Open and a period of contention at Whistling Straits in the Sunday of the PGA Championship that August. He was becoming a force to be reckoned with in a game that was looking for a new star. But all great players have to experience their own breakthrough moment.
That would come at Quail Hollow Golf Club in North Carolina. Narrowly making the cut at the halfway stage, the 20-year-old produced a remarkable display during the weekend. 66 on the Saturday brought him to within relative, albeit distant touching distance, and it would take something even more stunning to snatch the title from the strong field that had assembled at a course primed for major championships.
On Sunday, it felt like we witnessed the boy transform into a man. His course-record of 62 is undoubtedly one of the finest to be shot on the PGA Tour since the turn of the century, as he soared up the leaderboard to win by four shots from recently crowned Masters champion Phil Mickelson. CBS commentator Jim Nantz described the moment as "welcome to the big time, Rory McIlroy."
That may have been a typically hyperbolic statement from the longtime announcer, but there was an element of truth behind it. Although he had experienced success in the past, this was the maiden victory in the United States that truly grabbed the public's attention to believe that the young Ulsterman was primed to become a dominant figure in the game. And subsequent history has proven that to be the case.
Did it all start for Rory at Quail Hollow? Certainly not, but it was a pivotal, foundation laying marker from a brilliant talent.
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