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U.S Open 2011 Live: Padraig Harrington Thinks Rory McIlroy Could Be Next Jack Nicklaus

By now, unless you have been living under a rock, you have watched or seen clips of Rory McIlroy's brilliant play through the first three rounds of the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland. McIlroy has broken numerous records through his first three rounds, the latest being the lowest three round total through 54 holes in the 111 year history of the Open (119). His strong play is eliciting equally strong quotes from his golfing counterparts:

"Rory has proved in playing the majors so far that he is comfortable making the scores and he's managed to lead after 18 holes, 36 holes and 54 holes and 63 holes, so now all he has to do is get another nine holes and it looks like this will be the one," said three-time major champion Padraig Harrington. "What is he, 22 years old? If you are going to talk about someone challenging Jack [Nicklaus'] record, there's your man.

"Winning majors at 22 with his talent -- he would have 20 more years so probably 100 more majors in him where he could be competitive. It would give him a great chance."

Pretty strong words from a veteran golfer and major winner. Harrington isn't the only McIlroy contemporary who thinks highly of the 22-year-old from Northern Ireland. It almost seems like everyone below Rory on the leaderboard is actually rooting for the kid to win, something I don't think you would have ever said during Eldrick Woods' domination of the PGA Tour. Heck, even the media seems to be openly and blatantly rooting for McIlroy.

Rory, for your sake, I sure hope you win today, because I am frightened to see the aftermath of what would be one of the most epic collapses in not only golf history, but sports history.