Cameron Norrie and Rory McIlroy win big in the US
The Union flag fluttered proudly on athletic fields across the United States on Sunday as tennis star Cameron Norrie and golfer Rory McIlroy scored important and moving victories.
Norrie, 26, became the first Briton to win tennis’s so-called ‘fifth major’ as he fought back after losing a set and an early break to beat Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 3-6 6-4 6-1 in the final of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California.
Just over an hour earlier, 200 miles north, Northern Irishman McIlroy put behind him his personal torment of his role in Europe’s loss at the Ryder Cup last month by winning the CJ Cup in Las Vegas, joining a select group of 39 players to have won 20 PGA tournaments.
Norrie’s victory capped an outstanding year in which he not only won his first two tournaments – having also won in Los Cabos, Mexico in July – but also made four other finals on three different surfaces. World number one Novak Djokovic is the only other player to reach six finals this year.
Starting the week in 26th place, the Putney-based southpaw secured a spot in the top 20 and the ranking of the new British number one – overtaking 22nd Dan Evans – with his run affirming his career this week.
“It means so much to me, my biggest title. I’m so happy I can’t even describe it now. It’s absolutely huge for me and my team. I can’t really believe it, ”he said during his post-game on-field interview,” Norrie said after the game.
“I really enjoyed my tennis and really enjoyed being on the court and competing in the big moments.
Norrie, born in South Africa to a Scottish father and Welsh mother and raised in New Zealand, said this week he hoped his performance in such an esteemed event could serve as a stepping stone to take it further in the Grand Slam next year, never having succeeded in the second week of one of the “big four”.
This year he suffered third round defeats against Rafael Nadal at the Australian and French openings, and against Roger Federer at Wimbledon.
McIlroy, meanwhile, was thrilled to win his second title in a year in which the former world number one struggled with uneven form, his ranking slipping to 14 heading into this week.
The four-time major winner started two strokes ahead and clocked a stunning 66 under six to end on a par 25 and win by one stroke from American Collin Morikawa, who loaded the standings with a 62 from fencing.
McIlroy was playing for the first time since his moderate performance in Europe’s loss at the Ryder Cup – a scorching week that left the 32-year-old in tears in his closing interview – and said the experience l ‘had helped to straighten up.
“It was huge. It really was. I was really disappointed with the way I played, ”he said in an interview on the greenside with the PGA Tour.
“I realized that being me was enough, and that being me I can do things like that.”
He added: “To get 20 wins here is a great achievement. I didn’t know if it was going to be this week, but I knew that if I kept my head down and kept playing well and kept doing the right things, I would eventually get there.