Christy O’Connor Jnr is backing world No 1 Rory McIlroy to win at least 10 major titles.
But the Galway legend wonders if the 23-year old Holywood hotshot will have hunger and competitive desire to chase down Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major victories.
Speaking at the launch of his autobiography, “Christy — From Rough to Fair Ways”, the 1989 Ryder Cup hero said: “If he minds himself, I think Rory could win 10-plus, after that, who knows?
“He’s got to stay competitive and to stay competitive later in your career, you have to play quite a lot of golf, not just the odd tournament.
“I say he’ll win 10-plus majors but whether he wins as many as Jack is another story. Jack Nicklaus had a massive desire to win trophies and it remains to be seen if Rory will have the desire that Jack had.
“Rory certainly has the ability, there is no doubt about that, but will he have the desire to keep going after he gets into double digits? That’s the question.”
Meanwhile, McIlroy and fellow major winner Graeme McDowell are set to throw their weight behind a bid to bring the Challenge Tour to Northern Ireland next year. The Ulster pair will use their social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook to drum up support for an €170,000 (£140,000) event at Galgorm Castle from August 29 to September 1 while European Tour star Michael Hoey has promised to tee it up at the Ballymena venue.
“Rory and Graeme have committed to promoting the event from a distance because they are going to be playing the FedEx Cup that week,” said Gary Henry, general manager at Galgorm Castle. “They are fully behind Ireland having a Challenge Tour event because it is vitally important for creating player development opportunities for Irish professionals.
“Guys like Rory, Graeme and Shane Lowry leapfrogged the Challenge Tour but they are the exception.
“Most players have to grind it out and there is the natural progression through the Challenge Tour as Michael Hoey showed before he became established. Michael has committed to playing in the event so we are hoping to get a few more big names that will attract the crowds.”
Ireland staged a Challenge Tour event from 2005 to 2009 with two stagings in Killarney, two in Glasson and one at Moyvalley before funding from the Ryder Cup, Fáilte Ireland and the Irish Sports Council ran out.
Galgorm Castle, which hosted three successive PGA Europro Tour events from 2010 to 12, will rely on a public-private partnership to raise a proposed €500,000 budget. Talks are ongoing with the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Sport NI but it remains to be seen if Fáilte Ireland will get involved.
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