Six time major winner Nick Faldo has tipped Rory McIlroy as the next young gun to hit the European Tour.

The 2008 Ryder Cup skipper has been watching the Holywood kid in action as part of the Faldo Series for more than five years.

And he is convinced that his Ulster protege will go on to join former pupil Nick Dougherty as a star player.

After watching McIlroy win the Under 17 final of the Faldo Series at Celtic Manor, Faldo said: "We’ve only got a few names coming through but we have the keep the momentum going.

"We had Nick Dougherty coming through and James Heath. Now we’ve got guys like Rory McIlroy waiting to go."

McIlroy, who was second to England's Ben Evans in the overall final, looks certain to turn pro after next September's Walker Cup at Royal County Down.

And Faldo is looking forward to helping his pupils make the transition.

He added: "We are just trying to improve the percentage coming through and if we go from one to two, maybe we will then have four and so on. If we feel that we are helping them make the transition from amateur to professional easier then we are doing a good job.

"This was our 10th Faldo Series final and, in that time, we have gone from a competition with close to 300 competitors to a global initiative that is now creating opportunities for more than 3,000 young golfers.

"This year saw the launch of the Faldo Series Asia, the Faldo Series Iceland championship and the UK’s Faldo Mini Series. As this season ends, we are already looking forward to expanding further into Continental Europe and creating even more opportunities for young players to benefit from our unique combination of competition and education.”

Girls title winner, Stephanie Meadow from Royal Portush said: “Nick’s an inspiration and just to be able to talk to him and ask him questions is a great experience."

And while she will be at the Faldo Series International Trophy final in Hong Kong in January, McIlroy is likely to be playing a European Tour event in the Middle East.