McIlroy more Golden Bear than Golden Child

Eamonn Darcy reckons Rory McIlroy plays more like “Golden Bear” Jack Nicklaus than Tiger Woods.

But McIlroy’s manager Chubby Chandler is still laughing all the way to the bank with a player he’s described as a diamond in the rough.

After making a fortune looking after Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood and Ernie Els, ISM boss Chandler reckons the sky’s the limit for the hottest ticket in golf.

Chandler said: “Rory is still a rough diamond. A little more polish and he's going to really sparkle. He's going to have fun for years to come.

“He’s 16th in the world already, a magnificent achievement. I'll be very surprised if he isn't inside the top 10 before the season gathers many more divots.”

Europe’s Ryder Cup winning hero at Muirfield Village in 1987, Darcy won the second edition of the Dubai Desert Classic in 1990, when McIlroy was just nine months old.

And while believes the Ulster starlet has the perfect game for Majors, he'd compare him to a "relentless" Nicklaus rather than a wayward Woods.

Darcy said: “I wouldn't compare him with Tiger. They play the game in a totally different way. Rory won't get as many grey hairs as Tiger.  He hits so many fairways, just like Nicklaus did. Woods is like a Palmer in his heyday, he hits it all over the place. Rory doesn't do that. He hits it in play all the time.

“That's why I say he is like a young Nicklaus. He hits so many greens and makes so many birdies. That's huge for Majors. Tiger sometimes doesn't know where he is hitting it. But that is never the case with Rory.  

“Nicklaus was relentless, how close he hit it to the flag and the birdies he made. He wasn't chopping it out of trouble and it is the same with Rory.

"He keeps hitting fairways, hitting greens and hitting it at the flag all the time. He is going to have an incredible career. Chubby thought he was the best young player he had ever seen. He's better than Darren Clarke.

“They produce so many of those boys up north.  Ronan Rafferty was another one, a wonderful boy player who went on to become No 1 in Europe. He was a great player. 

“But this fella looks more grounded. And he is so strong. If I saw a weakness I'd say it was his putting but it is so exciting to see it."

McIlroy’s stablemate and mentor Clarke was waiting at the 18th to congratulate him on Sunday.

And he believes that as he gets more experience, there’s no tournament the teenager can’t win.

Clarke said: "All of us out here have known how talented he is and I've observed that at close quarters since he was 12 years old.

"He's just matured so much and last September in Switzerland when he didn't win, and he looked like he could have done, is probably one of the best things that's ever happened to him.

"I spoke to him straight afterwards.  It would have hurt, and it did hurt.  But the way he played the last hole both times is the way he plays golf.  He's quick and he's an aggressive type player.

"So all he's needed is just a little bit more time out here.  His caddie has kept the reins on him a little bit and he's playing the way he should play.

"It's now on a matter of time before he wins more and more tournaments and the bigger the better. No tournament is too big for him to win.”

As for a possible Ryder Cup partnership with McIlroy at Celtic Manor next year, Clarke believes he will qualify easily if he can keep pace with the wonderkid.

He said: "If I am close to Rory I think I will be alright!"