McIlroy`s next target - duelling with Tiger Woods

Bethesda: Rory McIlroy has realised one of his dreams with a record-shattering romp to victory at the US Open for his first major title but the 22-year-old now yearns to test himself against his golf idol, Tiger Woods.

"When I was growing up, I always had putts to beat Tiger Woods in the Masters or US Open," said McIlroy. "So it would be great to be able to get in contention one day .... and go down the stretch with him because I`ve never really had that experience before.”

"Hopefully he can get healthy and can get back playing good golf, because the game of golf is a better place with him playing well," he said of Woods, who missed his first US Open in 16 years due to leg injuries.

The Ulsterman`s performance filled the void left by Woods, breaking five scoring records at the 111th edition of the US Open at rain-softened Congressional.

He lit up the 18th green with a beaming smile and heart-warming "Happy Father`s Day" hug with his white-haired father, Gerry.

"I think the course did me a few favours this week with the condition of it," he said. "If this golf course was firm and hard, I don`t think anyone could have got to 16-under-par."

McIlroy swept away any doubts about his grit by bouncing back from a final-round collapse two months ago at the Masters to pulverise the field in a rout reminiscent of Woods`s own runaway wins at the 1997 Masters and 2000 US Open.

His final-round 69 gave him a 268 total that shattered the previous US Open record co-owned by Woods by four strokes. Being 16-under for the championship was also four shots better than the old record set by Woods in 2000 at Pebble Beach.

The new champion said he tried to emulate 14-times major winner Woods at Congressional.

"Just growing up and watching him, watching him dominate at the Masters at `97, watching him dominate at Pebble in 2000 and St. Andrews and just trying to go out there with the same intensity that he has, and the same `no lead is big enough.`"

Prove People Wrong

McIlroy had only won one US Tour event and one European Tour event coming into the tournament, but he had displayed his sublime talent in finishing tied for third in last year`s British Open and PGA Championship and tied for 10th at the 2009 US Open.

The former world number one ranked amateur looked poised to make the Masters his first major when he carried a four-shot lead into the final round.

By the 10th hole, however, that lead had shrunk to one and he unraveled at the 10th hole with a series of wayward shots that led to triple-bogey and an ugly final-round 80 on his card.

Some believed the wounds of that public humiliation would take their toll on the young golfer.

"I felt like I got over the Masters pretty quickly," said McIlroy, who finished third the next week in Malaysia.

"I kept telling you guys that and I don`t know if you believed me or not. But here you go (laughter). Nice to prove some people wrong."

With his first major in the bag, McIlroy is already being asked how many more he will win.

"It`s nice that people say that he could be this or he could be that or he could win 20 major championships, but at the end of the day I`ve won one," said McIlroy. "I obviously want to add to that tally.”

"When you win a major quite early in your career, everyone is going to draw comparisons, it`s natural," he said, steering back to three-times US Open winner Woods.

"It would just be nice obviously for him to be healthy again and get his knee and his Achilles in shape and be back out on the golf course, because he does bring a little something extra to tournaments," he said. "He`s Tiger Woods.”

"I`m just happy to be sitting here with the trophy that has his name on it."

Bureau Report

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