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The pluck of the Irish Teenager McIlroy could be next phenom

Citizen Staff Writer



There were no “boy wonder” jests on Friday at the Ritz-Carlton Golf, Club, Dove Mountain.

That’s because 19-year-old Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland was playing some serious golf.

“You’re looking at the future No. 1,” said veteran Ernie Els, who will play McIlroy on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the Accenture Match Play Championship.

McIlroy looks like a sophomore in high school who hasn’t yet begun to shave. But in the absence of many of the top golfers, McIlroy inherits the spotlight.

McIlroy, who turned pro in September, needed just five birdies on a bogeyless day to win 4 and 3 over Tim Clark, who beat Tiger Woods on Thursday.

“I think Tim didn’t play his best golf,” McIlroy said. “Understandably, he was probably a little flat after all that happened (Thursday). I came out and got off to an early lead and I was able to hang on to win.”

McIlroy was set to face Geoff Ogilvy in the quarterfinals at 7:20 a.m. Saturday.

McIlroy has been playing match play since age 8 and frequently played junior golf in the U.S.

“You’ve just got to go out there and play golf. That’s all you’ve got to do,” McIlroy said. “Just try and make birdies and try to shoot good scores and the rest will take care of itself.”

Els said McIlroy has been challenging on the European Tour for the last six months.

The rest of the golf world took note after he won the Dubai Desert Classic this month.

What if McIlroy were American? Would it be Tiger Mania, Part II?

With Woods out, “The tournament probably lost a little bit of buzz,” McIlroy said. “There’s still a lot of people showing support, which is nice, a lot of support.”

Teenager McIlroy moves on in Match Play


When: Through Sunday

Where: Marana’s Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain

Tickets: $45. Available at Welcome Center (take bus from parking lot) at Tangerine Road and I-10

Purse: $8.5 million (winner gets $1.35 million)


Rory McIlroy vs. Geoff Ogilvy

Ernie Els vs. Stewart Cink

Sean O’Hair vs. Paul Casey

Ross Fisher vs. Justin Leonard


> Saturday’s tee times

> Mickelson falls in third round

> Match play bracket, map

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