Rory McIlroy will be the ‘talisman’ for Europe at next week’s Ryder Cup and achieve a career grand slam according to nine-time major champion Gary Player.
In an exclusive interview with Laureus.com, Player, one of only five men to achieve golf’s grand slam, predicted the 25-year-old will join the elite names at golf’s top table after his impressive 2013/14 season.
“For Rory to win two majors with a world golf championship event back-to-back is an incredible achievement,” said the South African.
“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.
"It would truly be a treat to see Rory complete his grand slam on the 50th anniversary of mine." - Gary Player
“If he can continue to stay happy and healthy, he’ll be the next grand slam winner. He’s only got the Masters to add to his growing collection.”
If Rory McIlroy were to complete a career grand slam at next year’s Masters, the Northern Irishman would join Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen, as the only men to win the Open, the US Open, the Masters and the USPGA Championship.
“I told him the day after his first major that I for one truly believe that he can do it,” said the 78-year old. “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.”
Gary Player :: McIlroy the key to Ryder Cup victory
A week today, Rory McIlory will join up with the rest of Paul McGinley’s squad at Gleneagles to try and capture his third successive Ryder Cup.
After ascending to world No.1, winning four times and carding ten further top ten finishes this year, Player is in no doubt the four-time major champ is the shining light in the European line-up.
"He will be the talisman for the European Ryder Cup team." - Gary Player
“He’s on top of the world right now, with tons of confidence,” said Player. “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 No.1 and the most dominant player in the game right now.”
McIlroy has strong case for Laures award
The Laureus World Sports Awards are held annually and celebrate the standout men and women from the world of sport from the previous calendar year.
This year, Rory McIlory is a front-runner in the category of ‘World Sportsman of the Year’. If he were to win, Rory would be the first golfer since Tiger Woods in 2001 to claim the prize.
Gary Player, a Laureus golf legend, would love to see McIlroy awarded the honour, and believes he has as good a chance as anyone.
"I am hoping for the best because Rory is a great talent in the game." - Gary Player
“Certainly you cannot argue against the year that Rory has had,” Player said. “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.”