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McIlroy will be number one - Els

Rory McIlroy
McIlroy has taken centre stage on his US professional debut

Ernie Els has backed Rory McIlroy to become world number one after the Northern Ireland teenager made the WGC Accenture Match Play quarter-finals.

The 19-year-old from Holywood is the centre of attention in Arizona following Tiger Woods' early exit.

McIlroy beat South Africa's Tim Clark 4&3 on Friday to set up a last-eight clash with Australian Geoff Ogilvy.

"I think that you're probably looking at the next number one in the world with him," said Ernie Els.

The South African, who plays Stewart Cink in Saturday's quarter-finals, added: "He's going to be a major factor in world golf.


"He's got all the tools. He's got a lot going for him."

McIlroy, making his professional debut in the United States, has remained calm despite the attention.

"I still have got a long way to go," he said.

"And my main goal is to try to get into the top 10 in the world and then if I can do that I'll try and get to number two and then Tiger comes back fit and strong.

"You've just got to go out there and play golf. Just try and make birdies and try and shoot good scores and the rest will take care of itself."

Ogilvy, the WGC Accenture winner in 2006 and runner-up in 2007, tees off against McIlroy at 1420 GMT on Saturday at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club.

"He's obviously a great player," said Ogilvy. "I've been hearing all the stories and seen him hit it.

"He obviously hits it great, makes a lot of putts if he does as well as he does. So I'm sure I'm going to have my work cut out, and it will be fun to play with him."

Englishmen Paul Casey and Ross Fisher take on Americans Sean O'Hair and Justin Leonard respectively.

Quarter-final draw

Rory McIlroy (NI) v Geoff Ogilvy (Aus)
Ernie Els (RSA) v Stewart Cink (US)
Sean O'Hair (US) v Paul Casey (Eng)
Ross Fisher (Eng) v Justin Leonard (US)

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see also
Match Play results
26 Feb 09 |  Golf
Tiger back in the groove
26 Feb 09 |  Golf
Tiger back on the prowl
27 Feb 09 |  Golf

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