McIlroy Returns to Northern Ireland; Moves Up in World Rankings

After winning the U.S. Open by a whopping eight strokes and earning $1.44 million, Rory McIlroy thought it was time for a break. The 22-year-old has returned to his home in Holywood, near Belfast, in Northern Ireland.

And he plans to stay there awhile. McIlroy pulled out of the French Open, which starts in Paris June 30, and won't play again until the British Open at Royal St. George's Golf Club in Sandwich, England, which begins July 14.

After celebrating his first major victory, McIlroy plans to relax with his family for the next couple of weeks.

A large crowd gathered when he arrived at his home club in Holywood to show off his Open trophy. "To come back to the club I spent every day at for the first 20 years of my life brings back a lot of good memories," he said. "To come back with this trophy is very special and hopefully it is not the last major I come back with."

Despite his absence from tournament play, the youngster has inspired Martin Kaymer. The former No. 1-ranked player in the world and 2010 PGA champion told the European Tour's website, "Watching Rory made me want to practice more. It's inspirational. If you see somebody playing as well as Rory you want to go out and become a better player."

McIlroy's victory moved him up to No. 4 in the World Golf Ranking; he now trails only Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Kaymer, which means that the top-four players on the globe are Europeans.

"We have the top four spots now and it's nice," said the 26-year-old Kaymer. "I think it's something to do with the Europeans playing worldwide and becoming more complete players. We travel a lot and experience everything."

Kaymer's fellow German Bernhard Langer said European golf should enjoy the players' success. "We should savor this," said Langer, who dominated the Champions Tour in 2010. "It doesn't come around too often . . . I think they benefit from playing each other and beating each other regularly. That's human nature.

"They know they can beat (the Americans) and they know they are just as good and they go out and prove it. For years, there was a drought. Now it's the opposite."