By Brian Keogh
Rory McIlroy's mobile phone was buzzing with messages of congratulations from his tour buddies on Sunday night.
His ISM stablemates Graeme McDowell, Simon Dyson, Simon Wakefield and Anton Haig all sent texts welcoming him to the tour.
But there was also a slap on the back from Ernie Els and a late night call from pal Darren Clarke congratulating him on his brilliant performance
And Open champion Padraig Harrington and Ryder Cup stars Luke Donald and Paul Lawrie also weighed in with words of praise of the new kid on the block.
Harrington joked during his Open speech at Carnoustie that it was good to get a major under his belt before McIlroy got going.
And he was seriously impressed by the youngster's play in the Dunhill Links Championship - something that was well beyond him when he was 18.
Harrington said: "It’s just brilliant and Rory's the new kid on the block and he’s going to keep us all honest. It’s great for Rory and it’s just as fantastic for Irish golf.
"There’s no way I was achieving results like Rory when I was 18, and besides I was in college studying accountancy.
"So Rory, in a sense, is working on different sums than I was tackling but good luck to him."
McIlroy added: "It's an amazing feeling to beat guys like Padraig Harrington, Paul Casey and Ernie. Just to see those guys below me on the leaderboard was amazing. The more I play the more confident I get.
"I have started friendships and I am just really looking forward to getting out next year and being on tour."
Dunhill winner Nick Dougherty was a member of the 2001 winning Walker Cup side that also boasted Ulsterman Graeme McDowell and the Scottish pair of Marc Warren and Steven O’Hara.
And he singled out the Holywood teenager in his victory speech, saying: "I saw all the hype about Rory when he played Walker Cup and the world’s expected, and he’s delivered.
"I just think he’s a fantastic talent. I didn’t do that on the back on my Walker Cup successes, and I was extremely high-profile.
"So for Rory to do what he’s done from just two starts is amazing and all credit to him and he’s achieved it in front of a world-class field, as well."
World No 15 Luke Donald, who played alongside McIlroy in the final round and finished six shots behind him, added: "I was really impressed with Rory and he looks a great young player.
"He just has no fear and he hit so many great shots out there but to birdie three of the final four holes was just fantastic.
"So he's a good player and he's not afraid to hold some putts. If I was to compare myself when I was 18, I would say he is a little bit more powerful than I was but he’s a lot more confident that I was.
"But he’s just going to be a great player and it’s just great to see good new European players coming through, and I’m all for it."
Former Open champion Paul Lawrie handed McIlroy his card when he bogyed the 17th and allowed the Ulster kid to finish third on his own.
And the Scot, who played two rounds with McIlroy in his maiden Tour event as a pro, piled on the praise.
He said: "I played with him at The Belfry for the first two rounds and again, you can’t say enough about the young guy
"He’s just a lovely young man and he’s going to be a hell of a player. I spoke to his parents on Friday night and said what a good job they had done because he’s a great lad and he is a nice kid.
"So I think there is nothing he can’t do and we all look forward to seeing how he gets on."