Rory McIlory will be the talisman of the European Ryder Cup next week, predicts Laureus golf legend Gary Player. He will also become the sixth man to achieve golf’s Grand Slam of four Major Championships and is a strong contender to be Laureus World Sportsman of the Year, says the Laureus World Sports Academy Member. In an exclusive interview with Laureus.com, Player, one of only five men to achieve golf’s Grand Slam, assesses Rory’s successes in 2014 and makes bold predictions about what the amazing young man from Northern Ireland can achieve in the future.
Among his comments, Player, who himself won nine Major Championships said, “For Rory to win two Majors with a World Golf Championship event back-to-back is an incredible achievement. When you add the flagship event on the European Tour, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, it’s been an outstanding season so far for him. If he can continue to stay happy and healthy, he’ll be the next Grand Slam winner – he’s only got the Masters tournament to add to his growing collection. He’s on top of the world right now, with tons of confidence. I certainly think that he will be the talisman for the European Ryder Cup team. This should be a huge boost for the team because he is the current World Number One and the most dominant player in the game right now.” Player, along with golfing greats Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen, are the only men to achieve the Grand Slam by winning the Open Championship, the US Open, the Masters and the USPGA Championship, but he believes that McIlory will join that exclusive club. “I told him the day after his first Major that I for one truly believe that he can do it. Now he only has the Masters left to achieve that feat. I won the Grand Slam at age 29 when I won the US Open at Bellerive in 1965. That will be 50 years ago next year. It would truly be a treat to see Rory complete his Grand Slam on the 50th anniversary of mine. If he does not win the Masters in 2015, I believe it will only be a matter of time,” said Player.
After his amazing year, with the Ryder Cup still to come, Player thinks McIlroy is a strong contender for the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award. The last male golfer to win the most prestigious individual Award in sport was Tiger Woods in 2001. Player said, “Certainly you cannot argue against the year that Rory has had. Though what Tiger did was extraordinary and unmatched in the game’s history when he became the first player to hold all Major Championship titles at the same time. I think Rory could have a good chance to win Laureus Sportsman of the Year, but myself and all the other Laureus Academy Members will be looking to see how he closes out the year. I am hoping for the best because Rory is a great talent in the game and I would love to see him win the 2015 award.”