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'It's nice to see a happy face up at world No.1'

Ernie Els, a fellow four-time major tournament winner, believes that the key to Rory McIlroy becoming one of the greats of the game will be his level of dedication.

Ernie Els, a fellow four-time major winner, urges Rory McIlroy  to 'do his thing and see where he finishes' and not to chase records. Picture: EPA
Ernie Els, a fellow four-time major winner, urges Rory McIlroy to 'do his thing and see where he finishes' and not to chase records. Picture: EPA

Having spent three days celebrating in nearby New York, McIlroy's summer conquest will continue later this week on the opposite side of the Hudson River, as he looks for a first FedEx Cup triumph. McIlroy will join 124 other golfers in Thursday's starting Barclay's Championship in Paramus, New Jersey and the first of the four FedEx Cup Play-off Series.

In the three years McIlroy has been eligible to win the FedEx Cup he has placed 36th in 2010, runner-up in 2012 and a lowly 50th last year.

Then there is the Race to Dubai title and with McIlroy seeking to become the first player to win the title twice. And he will end his remark­able double major winner season determined to join Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player as the only overseas born players to successfully defend the Australian Open being staged from November 27th to 30th in Sydney.

Els will be among those teeing up this week in New Jersey, and the South African and former world No.1 has some timely advice for McIlroy.

"We've all known Rory's had the talent and now we have to see how he goes on from here," said Els. "If he dedicates himself he can be one of the best but if he does not dedicate himself we have seen how difficult this game could become.

"But the good thing is Rory has some good people around him. His father and mum are the best, JP is great for a caddy, so I look forward very much to see how his career continues to unfold."

Els also says that declaring McIlroy as the heir to Woods only makes it more difficult for him. "That's unfair and it's unnecessary pressure on Rory," he said. "Rory's just got to do his thing and try and win as many majors as he can, and see where he finishes. He should not be worrying about trying to break records.

"But there's no denying he's the new face of golf and that's great going forward for both the European Tour and the PGA Tour. He's the best player in the world and that's wonderful to see, and Rory's also a happy character and not a sour looking type of fellow, so it's nice to see a happy face up there as world No.1."

In capturing last fortnight's PGA Championship McIlroy became Ireland's greatest golfer surpassing Padraig Harrington's effort of three majors. Prior to leaving Greensboro last week - and despite the disappointment in losing his PGA Tour card for a first time in his career - Harrington singled out McIlroy for special praise.

"Rory has indeed moved to a different level than he was say five weeks ago when the media were all on his back on the Friday of the Scottish Open, and we're standing here and we're talking about him winning three events in a row including two majors," said Harrington.

"We all knew he was good and it's Tiger Woods-like now. Not just the fact Rory's won four majors but you always thought Rory was going to win the PGA despite there being so many other good players who could have won. He just looks incredibly comfortable at the moment but as I said, he standing in world golf in so different to a month ago.

"We always knew he was a great player and he's delivering on that more and more."

Unfortunately, Martin Laird's disappointing share of 14th place in the Wyndham Championship saw him fall two places shy of qualifying for the play-offs.

It leaves Russell Knox, and lying in 48th spot, as the only Scot in the field for the New Jersey opener.

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