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A quick learner _ that’s something else they say about McIlroy. In the spacious grounds of his comfortable home outside Belfast, he’s built greens and practice areas seeded with different types of grasses he encounters at tournaments and bunkers, including a replica of the famous Road Hole at the 17th at St. Andrews, with various grades of sand.

“It is very forward-thinking,” Bannon says. “He can walk out the kitchen and hit golf balls.”

“That’s one thing about Rory, too _ he’s always up very early. He doesn’t really lie in,” he adds. “Sometimes I go over to his house there at 8 o’clock in the morning and he’ll be there. He’s up and organized. He may have been to the gym at half-six or something.”

So the golf-mad boy is now the consummate professional. But, really, it’s still his boyish nature that makes McIlroy such a pleasure to watch.

“If someone said, ‘What’s your abiding memory of Rory?’ I think it’s the joy on his face or the look on his face when he was young, maybe looking forward to going out to play golf or wanting to show people what he could do,” Bannon says.

“This wee fella with the talent, going to beat everybody and to just show them exactly what he was made of.”