College Women

Denver's Carty, McIlroy hail from same background

Denver freshman Jessica Carty
Denver freshman Jessica Carty ( Clarkson Creative )

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Eamon Carty may not have been bold enough to predict a period as the No. 1 golfer in the world or multiple major championships, but he saw the potential in a young Rory McIlroy.

Carty was the best man at Gerry McIlroy's wedding and played golf with Rory's grandfather in Holywood, Northern Ireland.

Carty's daughter, Jessica Carty, is now trying to fulfill her potential at the University of Denver, where she is competing as a freshman.

"When (Rory) was coming through as a teenager, we'd always go watch him," Jessica Carty said. "He'd win pretty much everything he played in. My dad was constantly telling people when he was younger that he was going to be a superstar.

"When he finally won a major, my dad was like, 'I told you so.' We've grown up watching him progress, and it's awesome to see where he is now."

While McIlroy is practicing in Augusta, Carty is getting back from her own competition in Georgia – the Liz Murphey Collegiate Classic in Athens.

Carty led the team to a seventh-place finish after 18 holes of stroke play over the weekend. The team, which entered the tournament as the No. 44 team in the Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings, lost to three top-15 teams during the match play portion of the tournament – No. 5 Arkansas, No. 11 Alabama and No. 12 Northwestern.

"I thought it was really fun," Carty said. "All we had to do was qualify in the top eight and we knew that in match play we could beat any team, really, no matter high they're ranked.

"I played well in all three of my matches and only won one, so it shows the standard. We were so close to beating Alabama, it came down to the last match, and we had to finish in the morning. It was fun to play against some great players, and that was a really great experience for us."

Carty was a top junior golfer in Northern Ireland. She holds the ladies course record at McIlroy's home course, Holywood Golf Club. She shot a 69 at the course two years back, earning bragging rights that McIlroy cannot claim.

He does not hold the men's record. It belongs to his uncle.

But the highlight of Carty's career may have come in 2012, when she won the Irish Girls Championship in her final year of eligibility. After the win, she received an unexpected text message.

It was from McIlroy and read: "keep up the good work."

"I was happier receiving that text than actually winning the championship," Carty said. "It was probably an hour afterward that he said that, so it meant a lot that he actually knew about it and took the time to send a nice message. It reinforces what a nice guy he is and how normal he is."

The town of Holywood is certainly supportive of its hero.

"It's pretty much a craze, and I don't think it will ever end," Carty said. "Around the golf club, everyone knows how amazing he is, but when comes back, it's like he's a normal member of the club. He's so down to Earth and is such a nice guy that everyone sees him as Rory." readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.