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Open champion McIlroy inspiring a generation

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The success of Rory McIlroy is widely believed to be inspiring a host of young people to take up golf.

Last Sunday the Co Down man clinched the Open Championship and the ‘Rory effect’ certainly seems to be taking hold at Newtownstewart Golf Club which says it has a host of young talent emerging through its ranks.

Macauley Killen and Stuart Ballantine are young golfers who have credited Rory’s success with inspiring a  real passion for the sport themselves.

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Macauley is junior captain at Netwownstewart Golf Club and is currently waiting on his AS level results.

He began playing golf from the young age of seven when his dad took him to the club for a round, and since then has “never looked back.”

He explained how he nervously watched Rory clinch the title, “I had been watching the Open and the final day was definitely nerve-racking but it’s good to finally see Rory playing a lot better.”

Stuart Ballantine also started playing golf at the age of seven, after his granny bought him a set of clubs. “It’s good to see Rory win,” he said.

“When you see him out playing it makes you want to get out as well. You almost think you could do the same as what he is doing.”
Macauley believes Rory’s success as helped to improve the image and profile of golf among young people.

“There’s a lot of media attention on Rory because he’s from Northern Ireland and it’s helping young people become more aware of golf and thinking ‘I could do that.’ I certainly feel Rory has influenced a lot of people.”

The two boys believe that golf is something anybody can get involved in.

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Stuart pointed out, “You don’t have to be overly talented, you can pick it up and work on it.”

Macauley added, “If you take a few lessons that will help as well. But it’s definitely down to the practice.”

“It’s a sport that you can play to compete or to relax,” explained Stuart. As a young person it teaches you a lot – it helps your concentration and it’s good exercise.”

Initially the boys received a bit of grief for their love of the golf. But now they have encouraged friends who witnessed Rory winning the Open title to come down to the driving range to have a go for themselves.

John Colhoun, men’s captain at Newtownstewart Golf club, has also been encouraged by Rory’s win and the influx of young people hitting the fairways,

“We are very fortunate in this province to have major winners like Rory, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke which are good for the profile of the sport. People who may not have been bothered about it before now take an interest in golf and watch it. These guys are all household names and you can’t fail but become attracted to it.”

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