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The U.S. Open was soft this year because of rain. The British Open is firm, and bouncy as ever at Royal St. George’s.

“Today it really tested everything,” Donald said. “I still think the guy that can scrap it around and make pars from off the green, hole some long putts and kind of keep the momentum going, especially when it’s very tough like it was today, then that’s the key to playing well.”

McIlroy did everything right at Congressional, which is why so much is expected of him. He still believes, like so many other athletes, that the public’s expectations are not as great as his own. Still, this is a different week, and a very difference major.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to play that sort of golf every week I tee it up _ I hope I do, but I can’t see it,” he said. “Yeah, expectations are going to be high. I have high expectations myself. I want to go out there and try and win a lot of golf tournaments and win majors and become the best player in the world. All I need to do is focus on my game, and if I can do that, I know my good golf is good enough to win plenty more tournaments.”

But there is something special about this kid.

It’s not only his simple, fundamentally sound swing, but the way he draws people to him because he looks like he’s having so much fun. Even as his celebrity grows, McIlroy appears to stay grounded. In his final preparation for the British Open, he went to Royal County Down at twilight, carried his own bag and played nine holes with his father tagging along.

“The thing about Rory is that he plays golf with a real flair and a real charisma, and I think fans are drawn to that,” Mickelson said. “He plays it with this youthful exuberance, and it’s fun to watch and see somebody play golf like that and really enjoy it. He played beautifully, obviously, and ended up winning. But it’s not just how he won with his great play, but also the way he interacts with people.”

McIlroy became the youngest major champion since Woods won his first major at Augusta National in 1997 when he was 21. The last four major champions are all in their 20s, the first time that has happened in more than a century.

“The ages seem to be dropping a bit,” Masters champion Charl Schwartzel said. “Tiger Woods was young when he was starting to win, and he kept on winning until all his injuries came up.”

Colin Montgomerie was among those who said it was harder to win majors in the Woods era because it seemed as if he won two every year, and that left only two others for everyone else to fight over.

There might be some truth to that. Woods, who is not playing while recovering from leg injuries, has gone three years without winning a major.

“There is no real, one dominant player right now, and I suppose that makes it a little bit more open,” Donald said.

There is one in particular who seems to be getting all the attention. McIlroy still only has one major, the same number as Trevor Immelman, although so much more is expected of him.

They have been talking about McIlroy since he was a freckled-face teenager, knowing big things were to come. It all might appear to be a quite a burden for someone so young, although Boy Wonder doesn’t seem the least bit flustered. He is thriving in the spotlight.

“I’m the sort of person that likes to have people watching,” McIlroy said. “I like to have a little bit of a buzz in the atmosphere around the group, and I’ll enjoy it. It’s not going to be the first time that I’ve played in front of big crowds. Last time I played a competitive round of golf, I had a pretty big crowd following me.”