When Rory McIlroy lifted aloft the British Open trophy on Sunday the cheers were ringing out from Lurgan.
Sitting nervously in front of his TV from Thursday, Rory’s uncle Mickey McDonald admitted he was more nervous than Rory seemed on his way to a famous victory.
“I had thought about going over to the British Open, but because I’m going to see him play in America in a few weeks time I decided to stay at home,” said Mickey. “It was a great win and he handled the pressure very well. I was more nervous than him on Sunday, but despite the rest of the field cutting the gap I couldn’t see him losing it.”
Rory dedicated the win to his mum, Rosie, Mickey’s sister who worked in the Optical factory on the Avenue Road before moving to Belfast almost 30 years ago.
“Rosie does not go to many of the tournaments but she does like The Masters and The British Open so it was nice she was there to see him win what is the greatest prize in golf,” added Mickey who flies out to Chicago today (Thursday).
“I missed out on the celebrations but my sister Leeann and daughter Michelle were over for it and enjoyed the celebration party afterwards.
“Rory’s favourite golf course is St. Andrew’s and that is where the Open will be played next year. I had already made plans to go and see him win it there - but now he can do it back to back.”
Mickey, who plays off a 15 handicap, is better known for his football exploits with Glenavon in the 1980s, famously scoring five goals in a 6-4 win over Linfield at Windsor Park.
“I always liked golf but never had time to play it when involved with football,” said Mickey. “I have made up for it and play as much as I can now and am a member at Silverwood. I’ve had a few rounds with Rory, but no tips. I try to get to see him whenever he comes home but he is based in Florida now so he is not back that often. At Christmas the whole family meet up in Belfast.
“I’ll catch up with him at the Bridgestone and the PGA Championship at Valhalla which is only an hour’s drive from where I am staying. Getting tickets for those tournaments won’t be a problem. That is one of the perks,” added Mickey.
Also cheering on Rory to Open glory were Mickey’s brother Gregory and sister Fiona Pettersen.