Rory McIlroy singled out legendary Royal Portrush Secretary Wilma Erskine for special praise straight after muscling his way to a share of the lead on day one of the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina.
McIlroy brilliantly turned on the fireworks in grabbing five birdies over his nine holes in a five-under par 66 in the event he’s won twice before
The four-time Major winner, in being asked about his round, was quizzed on his experiences of playing Royal Portrush and where this year’s Open Championship is being staged from 18th to 21st July.
McIlroy was celebrating his 10th birthday when his father, Gerry, took him to Royal Portrush as a birthday gift.
“It was my birthday and that was the first time I met Darren Clarke as he was on the chipping green at Royal Portrush”, said McIlroy.
“So, 20-years ago in a couple of days time is the first time I’ve played Royal Portrush, and I’ve played it a little bit growing-up.
“Then I played in the North of Ireland Amateur there at the course and it became a course I would play three or four times a year.
“One of the most influential people at Royal Portrush is Wilma Erskine who was one of the key people in getting The Open back to Royal Portrush.
“We developed a good relationship with Wilma and she said to me that anytime I wanted to come up and play the course I was more than welcome, so the club has always been very nice to me in that regard.”
Wilma is stepping down as Secretary of Royal Portrush later this year after one of the more distinguished careers in golf.
Just recently, she flew to Florida as a guest of PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan to attend the Players Championship.
And Wilma is in for a very a special award ahead of this year’s 148th Open Championship that will be made public shortly.