Page last updated at 17:56 GMT, Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Golfing sensation home after win


Ireland's Rory McIlroy has just become the sixth teenager to win a European Golf tour event.

The teenager dubbed "the next Tiger Woods" has returned to his County Down home after winning his first competition on the European Tour.

Rory McIlroy, 19, who won the Dubai Desert Classic on Sunday, came home to Holywood on Wednesday.

The win elevates McIlroy to 16th in the world rankings, the youngest player to reach the world's top 20.

Former Masters and Open champion Mark O'Meara said his ball-striking was better than Tiger Woods at 19.

O'Meara was fulsome in his praise after playing alongside McIlroy in Dubai.

"Ball-striking wise at 19 he's probably better than Tiger was at 19," he said.

"His technique I think is better and there's no reason why he can't win quite a few tournaments and a lot of major championships. He's got it."

Speaking at Holywood Golf Course on Wednesday, McIlroy said the comparisons were flattering.

"Obviously Tiger, since he was 19, has improved a lot," he said.

"But, if he can improve that much hopefully I can as well.

"Maybe one day I'll be able to compete with him, but at the minute I'm concentrating on trying to get my next win and moving up the world rankings.

"Getting that first win was a huge moment for me. Everybody was saying it was a long time coming, but to do it in such a short space of time has been fantastic. Hopefully I can keep going from here and get more wins."

When he was younger, his father was so convinced his son would hit the big time in golf that he put a bet on that Rory would win the Open Championship before he was 25.

The bookies gave him odds of 500-1, a decision they may now be regretting.

McIlroy has been a professional for less than 18 months and at the end of August 2008 he stood 172nd in the world rankings.

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