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McIlroy idolizes Norman

Rory McIlroy

Sydney (AFP) – Rory McIlroy says he admires most things Australian, particularly Russell Crowe and Greg Norman, and would like nothing more than to get his hands on the Australian Open trophy this week.

The Northern Irishman is playing the event at Royal Sydney from Thursday and revealed Australians figure highly in people he reveres, but admitted another Australian icon, Vegemite, was not to his taste.

“Russell Crowe’s always been my favourite Australian actor and my favourite all-time Australian golfer is Greg Norman,” he said Tuesday.

“I don’t mind the meat pies but just can’t get used to Vegemite, it’s definitely an Australian-born acquired taste,” he said of the thick black spread made from yeast extract.

The former world number one will tee-up this week looking for his first win over 12 months, with locals Adam Scott and Jason Day his main challengers.

While the likes of Norman, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player have won the event in the past, McIlroy is gunning to be only the second European after England’s Lee Westwood to claim victory.

He said Norman was an idol and winning in Australia would be a huge moment for him.

“Being a multiple Major winner and a former world number one, the Great White Shark will forever be remembered in the game,” he said of Norman.

“Aside from his great golfing achievements, Greg is a hugely successful businessman off the course. Not many golfers have successfully made that transition.

“I know Greg also has won the Australian Open many times and that is my goal this week.

“So to win the Australian Open would be huge for me. It would stamp my place in the history books of the Australian Open alongside people like Greg, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and so many other great players.

“And following in their footsteps would never be a bad thing.”

It is first time McIlroy has competed in an Australian Open since 2006 when he played as an amateur — averaging 76 over the four rounds to finish in a distant share of 51st place.