What do you give to a 25-year-old who has virtually everything?
That was the question facing those close to Rory McIlroy, including fiancée Caroline Wozniacki, plus good friends Mitchell Tweedie and Ricky McCormick along with his long-time caddy JP Fitzgerald and manager Sean O’Flaherty, who celebrated his birthday into the wee hours of yesterday morning.
Golf fans sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to McIlroy at virtually every turn of the Quail Hollow course on Sunday, but in the immediate minutes after his round McIlroy was clearly in no mood to blow out any birthday candles after recording his seventh top-10 in 10 events this year.
However, in the five years and seven months since turning professional, the former St Patrick’s Primary School and then Sullivan Upper School student can be rightly proud of his achievements: Two Major victories, four regular PGA Tour wins, three victories on the European Tour, last year’s Australian Open success and other triumphs in made-for-TV events in China.
Happy birthday to my amazing husband to be @McIlroyRory! Quarter of a century today. Time flies when you are having fun! 😊😘❤️— Caroline Wozniacki (@CaroWozniacki) May 4, 2014
He went to No 1 in the world with his 2012 Honda Classic success.
McIlroy’s career earnings alone in just 66 events on the PGA Tour amount to $16.634m (€11.98m) which averages $252,043 a tournament.
“If you had of asked when I was 18 years of age and just turning pro where do you envisage yourself on your 25th birthday, I don’t think I could have imagined what I have achieved in my golfing career,” he said.
“It was something I was discussing with JP (Fitzgerald, his caddy) on Sunday, so to have won two Majors and reached such highs as No 1 in the world is great. It’s something I am proud of, very proud of.”
@CaroWozniacki haha!! I guess it does! Just out of the gym trying to stay in shape! Don't want you trading me in for a younger model yet 😉😘— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) May 4, 2014
Of course, there’s been the unnecessary outside the ropes distractions, including the split from two management companies and the unsavoury severing of ties with a sponsor.
Being a double Major winner has meant McIlroy having to say ‘no’ now more often, but the well-mannered 18-year-old that faced the cameras in September 2008 is still that same person.
“There is that competitive side of me where you expect more of yourself given what you have achieved and what you have accomplished,” he said. “I also look back on the past five years or so having learnt so much, and it’s been a great five years or so.
“I’ve learnt so much also from the ups-and-downs of last year, so much so you do need a reality check every now and then. But looking back to the day when I turned pro and where I have come, and now what I have achieved since then, it has been a great journey and I wouldn’t take anything back.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved