McIlroy ready for Ryder Cup

LONDON - Rory McIlroy insists he is ready to handle the extra pressure of the Ryder Cup after his back-to-back majors.

McIlroy’s US PGA success endorsed his status as the world’s No1 player and allowed him to join a select group who have won four majors before the age of 26.

McIlroy will be regarded as a key scalp when the United States face Europe at Gleneagles next month but he has no fears over that.

“Definitely,” said McIlroy on the concept of him being targeted by Tom Watson’s team.

“I think not just how the Americans view me but how I am viewed in my own team. It is going to be my third Ryder Cup. I am not one of the most experienced guys but I am going to have to be a sort of a leader. I am going to be a talisman and drive us forward.

“I am realising I am going to have to accept that responsibility. I am comfortable with that. I am comfortable with everyone who is going to be on the team. In my first couple of Ryder Cups, I maybe felt a bit out of place to put my hand up and offer my opinion because who am I? I am only a rookie. Now it is my third, I have experienced a couple and in a place in the game that sort of warrants I can lead the team. It is a good place to be.”

In one of the finest climaxes to a major of all time, McIlroy recovered from being three strokes behind Rickie Fowler on the 10th hole on Sunday to win by one from Phil Mickelson.

While Fowler and Mickelson faltered, McIlroy played Valhalla’s back nine in 32. It was an indicator that McIlroy’s mere presence influenced his opponents.

“They made bogeys – Rickie made a bogey on 14 and then on 16. Phil made a bogey on 16,” McIlroy said.

“I am not saying that my name on the leaderboard in any way affected them but it has to do something, especially with the play I have produced over the last few weeks. It is another thing to have in my locker, knowing that it can maybe affect the guys.”

McIlroy’s major tally is now only one behind Mickelson and Seve Ballesteros. “Hopefully I get there at some point,” he said.

“And then turn my attention to trying to be the most successful European ever and try to catch Nick Faldo [who has six major wins]. There are a lot of goals on the horizon.”

Meanwhile, McIlroy will ensure there is some silverware paraded at Old Trafford this weekend.

After spending some time in New York, he will attend Manchester United’s opening Premier League game with Swansea City on Saturday as a guest of his boyhood heroes. – The Guardian

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