Ask any golfer. Rory McIlroy is the hottest sensation in professional golf since Tiger Woods came on the scene more than a decade ago. He currently ranks seventh in the world golf rankings, his best rating ever. An Irishman from near Belfast, he began playing at a young age and was quickly recognized as a natural talent.
And why should we care about this in Egypt?
Because Rory McIlroy will be the star attraction at the Egyptian Open golf tournament from October 20-23 played on the Mirage City golf course at the JW Marriott Hotel.
The Egyptian Tourist Authority has seen the value of golf tourists to the Egyptian economy and employment, and it is supporting Rory McIlroy’s trip to Cairo to play in one of the venerable golf competitions on the African continent.
Nearly everyone on the planet knows Tiger Woods, who became a professional golfer as a teenager and quickly vaulted to the No. 1 spot on the World Golf Rankings. Last year, Tiger went through some bad times, and his golf has yet to recover.
Rory McIlroy is following in Tiger’s footsteps, winning his first major golf event (the Dubai Desert Classic) as a teenager and his first win on the US Professional golf tour earlier this year at the tender age of 20.
Last week, Rory set a record for his first round of 63 at The Open played on the legendary golf course in St. Andrews, Scotland. Unfortunately, the weather defeated him on the second day and his scored ballooned to 80, the worst golfing collapse in major golf tournament history. But Rory was not undone — "with some luck I avoided scoring an 82 or 83," he said after the round. He then went on to finish third in the tournament.
Rory’s swing, his concentration, his cool manner, and his antics on the green (where he occasional lies totally prostrate when lining up a putt), have earned him some remarkable comments from fellow players. Perhaps the most telling comment game from Tiger Woods himself, a golfer not disposed to say much about other players. "Rory will be number one; it’s just a matter of time," said golf’s best player.
The announcement that McIlroy would play at Mirage came at The Open, where a group of young Egyptian golfers presented him with the invitation.
“To have one of the world’s best players agree to join us for the 2010 tournament is a wonderful bonus after achieving full European Challenge Tour status,” says Egyptian Golf Federation Chairman Ayman Hussein.
“Having Rory McIlroy with us will help focus attention on Egypt, a country we firmly believe has a bright golfing future to match its reputation as the original home of the game in the Middle East. I am sure he will be guaranteed a warm welcome not only from Egyptian golf fans but also from the players of the European Challenge Tour.”
Last year, the Egyptian Tourist Authority brought the Scottish legend and Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomery to Egypt. Monty was an instant crowd success, although his golfing performance was only good enough to gain fifth place in the tournament against a selection of young European Challenge tour golfers. Last year’s winner, Steven Tiley, also made an impression during the first round of The Open only to fall victim to the second day’s bad weather and finish well back in the pack.
McIlroy’s first encounter with Egypt came a few years ago at age 16 when he won the Junior Golf Championship in the UK. Young Taymour Scarello, Egypt’s junior champion at the time met him during the competition. "He was amazing," recalls Taymour. "He acted like a pro, spending a lot of time on the putting green as well as the driving range during the competition."
Taymour also saw him play his first Dubai Desert Classic the next year, and in the junior golf competition Taymour played in South Africa.
“I’m very excited about the chance of playing in Egypt for the first time,” says McIlroy. “It’s not a country you would think about as a home for golf but I have heard about the courses there, the history of the Egyptian Open and the developments that are coming online. I can’t wait to see it for myself."
And Egypt’s golfers can’t wait to see you on the course, Rory.