Golf Power List: 10-1
2. Rory McIlroy, professional golfer
Every now and again a golfer who captures the public’s imagination bursts onto the scene and wins a Major at an early age. It happened with Seve Ballesteros in the late 70s, helped by him winning the Open aged 22, then again with Tiger Woods, who won The Masters at the age of 21 in the 90s and finally it happened to a Brit – Northern Ireland’s Rory, who won the US Open in 2011 aged just 21.
That success propelled Rory, who was already a golfing phenomenon, into a worldwide celebrity. Within a few days he began dating the tennis star Caroline Wozniacki and, in today’s world, the measure of someone’s popularity is via how many Twitter followers they have. To put that into context, Luke Donald, who has spent far longer at world number one than Rory, has less than 300,000. Rory, who only set up his account in late 2010, currently has 1.2 million.
His fame means he has enormous influence over golf participation and therefore expenditure in the UK. After his US Open success, a staggering 39 per cent of British 18-to-24 year-olds said they were inspired to try golf for the first time because of him.
His recent form has been patchy and there has been talk that his fame is damaging his career. However, at the age of just 23, he still has the time to be as successful as Seve and Tiger, but even if not, he has already made a huge and ever-lasting impression on golf.