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Catching Up With Rory McIlroy At 2013 Aussie Open!

2013 Emirates Australian Open

It took 8 years but, as the above photo proves, I finally got the chance to catch up with Rory McIlroy! I’ve told the story countless times but on 20 November 2005, I played a practice round with 16-year-old Rory as Rosebud Golf Club in Melbourne before the pre-qualifying event for that year’s Australian Open. I wrote about it on my blog at the time (see here) and while I was impressed with his golfing prowess, little did I know that he would go on and become a world number 1 and a two time major champion.

At a cocktail function following the thrilling 2013 Emirates Australian Open climax last weekend, I had the chance to speak with Rory and yep, he remembered our game from 8 years ago!  I said something of the lines of "hey Rory, you probably won't remember but I played with you and Oliver Fisher when you first came out to Australia to 2005."  Rory was quick to respond - not only recalling the round but also remembering the name of the course. 

It was a very cool moment – one that I won’t ever forget. Rory is a great guy, a terrific golfer and I’ll continue to follow his career with great interest. I feel for Adam Scott (who just missed out on the victory) but it’s great to see Rory’s name added to the list of Australian Open champions.

It was the first time that I’d attended the full week at the Australian Open and I thought I’d share a few photos taken with my iPhone to show what an amazing experience it was at Royal Sydney. Those that haven’t attended before should give it some serious thought next year!

2013 Emirates Australian Open
My hands on the Claret Jug – the trophy for The Open Championship!  It was on display as the top 3 players in the Australian Open (who hadn’t already qualified) would receive an invitation the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
I’ve followed him on Twitter for years and I’m a big fan of his golf writing and commentary.  Was nice to finally meet Luke Elvy face-to-face.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
Players are very accessible during the practice rounds and I was able to get a photo on the Wednesday with new World Cup champion Jason Day.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
Chatting to journalists in the press room. :)

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
Players and officials were driven to and from the course in Volvos throughout the week and when I had a quick chat to a few of the drivers, they were able to share some nice stories.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
Hard to believe this is the crowd before 9am on Thursday but with Adam Scott birding his first 6 holes, the word got out.  He finished the day with a course record 62.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
A real fan moment for me.  Was great to see Scotty after his course record 62 on Thursday.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
5-time British Open champion Peter Thompson was a special guest at the Australian Open and it was great to hear his thoughts on the game and the young players of today.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
There were a few interesting outfits in the crowd but huge points go to these three guys who I bumped into during the second round on Friday.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
It was Rory McIlroy’s chance to charge on Friday with a round of 65 to jump into second place.  He was a fan favourite with huge galleries looking to see him action.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
The weather was pretty good for the week… well, except for a few hours on Friday afternoon.  It’s hard to get photos to demonstrate the strength of the wind and rain but I think this shot of amateur Brady Watt and his caddy says it all.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
I was lucky enough to be invited to lunch by Golf Australia on Saturday and it was hard to fault the Royal Sydney experience when you saw our table and its view of the 1st tee.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
The opening hole at Royal Sydney is a terrific drivable par 4 with the tee box up on a man-made balcony (there’s actually a café below).  Makes for some great views.  Here’s Rory McIlroy off the 1st on Saturday.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
After a terrific day of golf on Saturday with roughly 16,000 spectators in attendance, Adam Scott left the 18th green with a 4 shot lead over Rory McIlroy.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
An amazing effort this week from 15-year-old amateur Ryan Ruffles.  He was 7 over after 6 holes in the first round but fought back to make the cut and finish 3 under for the tournament!  Big crowds followed him over the last 2 days.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
The final round produced an epic battle between Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy and the crowds were getting right behind both players.  Scotty struggled to make putts down the stretch but a birdie on the 9th saw him take 1 shot lead into the back nine.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
Scotty held the lead all the way until the 18th but after hitting it through the back of the green and making bogey, Rory pounced with a great birdie and 1 shot victory.  It was Rory’s first victory of 2013 and it’s great to see him back in the winner’s circle.

 

2013 Emirates Australian Open
Three amateurs made the cut but it was the super talented Brady Watt who took the low amateur medal with a total of 5 under par.  Another achievement in what has been an incredible 2 years for Brady.