herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Player puts McIlroy on pedestal with very best

GARY Player spent much of his career in the shadow of record 18-times major winner Jack Nicklaus and the South African believes Rory McIlroy is also the real deal.

"Rory's swing is so magnificent," purred 76-year-old Player. "He's got as much talent as anybody I've ever seen."

Player believes the only imponderable about US Open champion McIlroy, 22, is his desire. "Nobody knows what's inside of the man, how much passion he has," said the nine-times major winner. "Is he prepared to go through the pain barrier?"

Judging by McIlroy's performance at the 2011 US PGA Championship, where he injured his wrist on his third hole but plugged away to complete all four rounds, the world number two is a fighter.

The Holywood star also showed his battling qualities by winning the US Open by a record eight-shot margin, just two months after suffering the heartbreak of letting slip a four-stroke lead in the final round of the US Masters.

Player, nicknamed the 'Black Knight' for his all-black outfits, was hugely impressed by McIlroy's victory in the second major of the year.

"What Rory did, after making a hash of the Masters and winning the US Open, that shows what a great champion he is," added Player.

"The hallmark of a champion is consistency and he's always there."

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