Ryder Cup: Rory McIlory will be looking to help Europe to glory
The Ryder Cup, as a three-day match, is a relative sprint in golf terms but its emotional intensity makes it a draining environment for any player asked to play every session.
McIlroy did so at Hazeltine two years ago, as well as taking on the role of on-course cheerleader in the absence of Ian Poulter, and admitted yesterday he paid the price.
So – if he can restrain himself – there will be no repeat of the amateur dramatics from his epic opening singles match against Patrick Reed this time with fist-pumps on ration.
“I could play like that for nine holes and then it suddenly hit me. The level declined after that. It reached its crescendo on the eighth green and the last 10 holes wasn’t quite as good,” said McIlroy, who lost by a hole.
“I look back at those videos of the last Ryder Cup and it wasn’t just Sunday, it was Friday and Saturday. I’m surprised I had a voice left at the end of the week.
“It looked tiring to have to play golf like that for three days. So I learnt a lot from that. I learnt that it’s good to get excited but at the same time, if I have to be called upon to play a late match on Sunday, I want to have all my energy in reserve so that I can give everything for 18 holes because I did hit a wall that back nine and it cost me.”
If energy levels are to be a factor, Europe believe they have a collective advantage headed into tomorrow’s event.
While every American bar Jordan Spieth was involved in the PGA Tour Championship which concluded the FedExCup play-off series on Sunday, only six of the Europeans had to deal with the transatlantic flight and subsequent jet lag. US rookie Justin Thomas is also having to manage a wrist injury.
Ryder Cup: The European squad at the Ryder Cup gala
“Our team is fresher than the American team. I’m hoping that one of our benefits is that we are slightly more rested as a collective group,” said Justin Rose, the FedEX Cup winner.
“Their guys have been playing hard and playing under a lot of pressure. Obviously I have too but I’ve also made a lot of mini-decisions through the play-offs to try to get through this week. I’ve played many less practice rounds than I otherwise would have.
“I feel like we’re more rested. They might feel like they are playing their way in but our guys are going to have a bit of gas in the tank.
“We’ll have to evaluate it on Sunday, but I’m hoping our strategy is going to be the one that pays off in the long run.”
Gravel-voiced Bubba Watson admitted the Americans are running on empty. “It’s a long year, we’re all tired. You can tell by my voice I’m exhausted,” he said.
Ryder Cup McIlroy played at Hazeltine two years ago
“A lot of us were kind of getting sick. Not quite half the field had something, and then travelling all the way over here, we’re all battling something.
“If you’re like me, with a few meds in you right now trying to get healthy, it doesn’t help the captain.”
Watson was bizarrely wearing a turquoise glove on his right hand which he said was a team forfeit as part of a US fun and games initiative which also required players to insert specific words in interviews.
A nonplussed Spieth claimed to have no idea what Watson was talking about. Spieth has been Reed’s partner in the opening singles match in the last two Ryder Cups and there is no reason to suspect that will change with victory over Rose and Henrik Stenson on both occasions.
The US may though be thinking of pairing Reed with Tiger Woods in an explosive foursomes combination in an attempt to finally get the best out of him at a Ryder Cup.
“The intimidation factor that Tiger can bring to it I certainly would say is measurable,” said Spieth.
Ryder Cup: Tiger Woods is fresh off the back of victory in the Tour Championship
“When you look at players in his group when he’s playing well, it’s a different bottom line than his score. So you ought to think that if you get him in the right setting out here in a team atmosphere and playing well, that will make a difference.”
McIlroy admitted yesterday he has been counting the days for the chance of revenge ever since the United States took back the Ryder Cup two years ago.
McIlroy will finally have his moment tomorrow at Le Golf National in what will be the first Ryder Cup to feature every player in the world’s top 10.
“I’ve been excited for this basically since the last day in Hazeltine when we weren’t the ones spraying champagne for a change,” said McIlroy.
“I really love being a part of the process. The dialogue I’ve had with Thomas [Bjorn] over the past few months has been great and seeing the team take shape and everyone that’s played their way on is exciting.
Ryder Cup: Europe have a great record on home soil
Ryder Cup: McIroy believes Europe are still the underdogs
“The strength of Europe has been we all get behind one another. Whatever differences we may have, we put them to the side for this week and we’re a cohesive unit. That’s served us well for the Ryder Cups that we’ve had success in, especially in the last few years.
“Europe has had a pretty good run. Obviously there have been a couple of losses in there as well, which is to be expected. We’re playing the best players not just in America, but they are most of the best players in the world.”
While the United States have the better average world ranking for the showdown in France, Europe is not far behind.
The cumulative average ranking of all 24 players is the lowest in the history of the contest and Bjorn, Europe’s captain, predicts it will be the highest-quality Ryder Cup of all time.
“Are we in for something special? These teams are the two best teams world ranking-wise that have been across from each other in this event. It’s all lined up to be something special so it’s for those 24 players to go out and show that,” said Bjorn.
Read more here: Daily Express :: Sport Feedhappy wheels
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