With a heart-wrenching loss at Augusta and an explosive win at the U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy was playing in the North of Ireland Championship at Royal Portrush in July 2005. As a 2-year-old, he had poked a 40-yard drive; at 15, he had played for Europe’s winning Junior Ryder Cup team.

But now, at 16, his McNificence was still largely a matter of conjecture. He’d been left off Great Britain & Ireland’s 10-man Walker Cup team that would travel to Chicago to play the United States that September, a conspicuous, controversial omission. The kid still had much to prove at Portrush.

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