Europe cap­tain Clarke hails ‘in­spi­ra­tional’ McIl­roy

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

RORY MCIL­ROY’S (pix) Tour Cham­pi­onship-FedExCup Se­ries dou­ble in At­lanta at the week­end has given Europe’s team a mighty fil­lip ahead of the Ry­der Cup, said cap­tain Dar­ren Clarke yes­ter­day.

World No. 3 McIl­roy rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt at the fourth play­off hole on Sun­day to beat Amer­i­can Ryan Moore and win the sea­son-end­ing PGA Tour event, FedExCup hon­ours and a mind-bog­gling US$10 mil­lion (RM41.3m) bonus.

“From a Euro­pean per­spec­tive it is al­ways good to have one of our mem­bers win the week be­fore the Ry­der Cup,” a hay-fever stricken Clarke told a news con­fer­ence af­ter ar­riv­ing at Hazel­tine Na­tional.

“With the guys that were trav­el­ling here to­day on the plane, we were all there last night with all our cad­dies in the bar in the ho­tel watch­ing it on the big screen. Ev­ery­one was de­lighted and ex­cited.

“Rory is a won­der­ful young man and an un­be­liev­able golfer so he’s a hugely in­spi­ra­tional fig­ure for our team and I feel very lucky he’s on our Euro­pean side.”

McIl­roy vaulted into the play­off with a barn­storm­ing fin­ish to his fi­nal round, hol­ing out from 140 yards to ea­gle the same 16th hole where he would clinch the win 90 min­utes later.

“To see Rory show­ing that fight­ing spirit and bat­tling the way he did was won­der­ful,” said Clarke as he con­stantly dabbed away at his nose with a hand­ker­chief. “Rory is a very, very tal­ented young man.

“He has played very well all year. He wasn’t knock­ing the putts in be­fore but he has done a lit­tle these past few weeks.”

The 27-year-old North­ern Ir­ish­man stormed home in 30 strokes to catch, and even­tu­ally over­take, the lead­ers on Sun­day.

“To shoot what he did on the back nine… I think that was very im­pres­sive,” said Clarke.

“Ryan Moore was very strong yes­ter­day. Rory hung in there, gave him­self some op­por­tu­ni­ties… and then made birdie on the last play­off hole.”

Clarke was also hav­ing to hang in there at his joint news con­fer­ence with United States cap­tain Davis Love III yes­ter­day.

“I’ve come off the plane with a re­ally bad case of hay fever,” said the North­ern Ir­ish­man who has been plot­ting his Ry­der Cup cam­paign for months.

“My nose is drib­bling and run­ning (but) it was a good trip. I man­aged to get six hours’ sleep which is prob­a­bly the most I’ve had in two months.” – Reuters

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