Local hero: Rory McIlroy is bidding to win the Open on its return to his native Northern Ireland for the first time in 68 years.
Grand slam chaser: McIlroy needs just the Masters to join an elite group of five players to have completed the set of all four of golf's majors. He has won four so far in an illustrious career, plus more than $60 million in prize money.
Standout junior: The young Northern Irishman was a child prodigy. He won the World U10 title and here poses with six-time major champion Nick Faldo after winning the Under 17 Division of the 2006 Faldo Junior Series at Celtic Manor in Wales.
American idol: The young Rory idolized Tiger Woods, who won his first major in 1997 when McIlroy was eight. At nine, he wrote to the US star, saying he was "coming to get him."
Wider prominence: He was well known on the amateur scene, making Tiger-esque waves in Northern Ireland, but McIlroy first showed his talents to a wider audience as an 18-year-old when he finished as the best amateur at the 136th British Open at Carnoustie, Scotland, in 2007.
Professional breakthrough: He delayed turning pro until after the Walker Cup, the amateur version of the Ryder Cup, in September 2007. He won his first pro event at the 2009 Dubai Desert Classic.
Family affair: McIlroy's delighted parents Gerry and Rosie had worked multiple jobs and poured every penny into his obsession with golf from a young age.