American Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson believes that Rory McIlroy's amazing recent form could be the start of him dominating golf for years to come.
McIlroy has won two majors in as many months after he followed up his Open Championship triumph with victory and the PGA Championship securing his position at the top of the world rankings.
The Northern Irishman also won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at the start of August meaning he's won four titles this year.
At this stage last year McIlroy was winless and all of these triumphs have come shortly after his high-profile split with tennis star and fiancee Caroline Wozniacki.
Jack Nicklaus' record in sight
The 25-year old is being tipped to beat Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major titles after emulate the American's feat of winning four by the age of 25.
Watson was full of praise for the recent form shown by McIlroy and believes he deserves credit for overcoming his problems in the past.
“It’s sensational what he’s done over the last three weeks, winning three weeks in a row,” the American Ryder Cup captain told Sky Sports.
“I think a lot of it has to do with the problems he had with his game last year, and dealing with all the negative parts of how the game of golf can go.
“The main thing is that he’s recovered from that and learned from it and it makes you a stronger golfer. He has run the tables over the last three weeks."
McIlroy: An example on and off the course
But it isn't just on the course that McIlroy has impressed Watson. The 64-year old revealed his admiration for the way McIlroy conducts himself away from playing.
"The way he handles himself, his humour and how nice he is to people, I admire him greatly for that."
Although Watson is adamant that McIlroy can dominate the game but believes it's too early to say whether McIlroy can dominate the sport like Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
“I certainly think he can dominate the game, but time will tell. Let’s see what he’s like in five years and then we can really look back and say that was the beginning of the real Rory McIlroy era."
Watson will be hoping McIlroy can't continue his miraculous form during next month's Ryder Cup when Europe go head to head with his USA side.
Watson has had to deal with several selection problems with many players suffering recent injuries and he admits that he would like to have McIlroy at his disposal for the Ryder Cup.
“He would be a nice one to have on my Ryder Cup team,” said Watson.
He will have to contend with the absence of Dustin Johnson who has recently taken a break from golf for a month to deal with personal problems.
Matt Kuchar was forced to pull out of the PGA Championship before teeing off due to back spasms, while Jason Dufner withdrew after nine holes of the first round at Valhalla with a neck problem.
Kuchar has qualified for the Ryder Cup squad automatically so will be hoping to be fit in order to fulfill his position. However, Dufner is relying on Watson to select him as one of his three wildcard picks as he failed to make one of the nine automatic places.
One player that will be playing at Gleneagles next month is Phil Mickelson who finished second behind McIlroy at Valhalla. The six-time major champion's automatic qualification place was in doubt before the tournament but his best performance of the season saw him finish fifth in the qualification rankings.
Watson admits that he is relishing the prospect of having Mickelson playing during next month's event.
“Phil brings a lot to the table. I love the way he plays the game. He plays with the find of passion and focus I love to see in a player.
“You never know quite what you’re going to get with Phil, but that’s the beauty of him and why people watch him.
“But he brings a great enthusiasm to the Ryder Cup team that really helps and I’m looking forward to having him on my team. His experience is also vital – Phil has been on the American team 10 times in a row now.”
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