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At 11, McIlroy Stayed Summer With Utah Family; Played in Utah Junior Golf Association
BY KURT KRAGTHORPE
The Salt Lake Tribune
First published Jun 18 2011 08:04PMUpdated Jun 19, 2011 12:09AM
As the runaway leader of the U.S. Open, Rory McIlroy is making big headlines worldwide this weekend. But the first time his name appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune, it was in small type.
When he was 11, McIlroy spent the summer of 2000 with a family in Orem and played in 11 tournaments in the Utah Junior Golf Association. Jeff Thurman, the UJGA’s executive director, remembers the “nice, curly-haired kid” from Northern Ireland who recorded several high finishes in his age group but did not overwhelm the competition.
When he moved up to the 13-14-year-old division to play in the Utah State Junior Amateur, McIlroy lost 6 and 5 to Daniel Reid, now a BYU golfer, in the first round of match play.
McIlroy had become friends with Orem’s Scott Pinckney when they met during a tournament in Miami. Two years later, McIlroy’s parents sent him to Utah to live with Pinckneys for the summer, although his mother reluctantly parted with her only child. “I cried for days,” Rosie McIlroy once said.
Pinckney, who later moved to Phoenix, became an Arizona State star and qualified for the U.S. Open. While he missed the 36-hole cut, shooting 79-75, Pinckney was thrilled to reunite with McIlroy.
“He hasn’t changed,” Pinckney told Golfweek.com. “He’s completely down to earth.”
By winning the U.S. Open, McIlroy can join a list of UJGA alumni as United States Golf Association champions that includes Scott Hailes (1995 U.S. Junior Amateur), Annie Thurman (2002 Women’s Public Links) and Clay Ogden (2005 Public Links).