A McIl­roy year

Con­fi­dent North­ern Ir­ish­man says time is ripe to set an ex­am­ple in his third Ry­der Cup

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

World No. 1 Rory McIl­roy, who is cur­rently en­joy­ing his best year yet as a pro­fes­sional golfer, wants to crown a glo­ri­ous year by driv­ing the Euro­pean team to vic­tory in the Ry­der Cup next month.

The bi­en­nial tour­na­ment, which pits play­ers from Europe against play­ers from the US, tees off at Gle­nea­gles Golf Club in Perthshire, Scot­land, on Septem­ber 25.

The 25-year-old North­ern Ire­land player was this week drafted into the Euro­pean squad fol­low­ing a splen­did run in which he won back-to-back ma­jors. He won the Bri­tish Open at Royal Liver­pool Golf Club in Hoy­lake, north­ern Eng­land, on July 20 be­fore claim­ing the US PGA Cham­pi­onship at Val­halla Golf Club in Louisville, Ken­tucky, last Sun­day by a one-stroke mar­gin over vet­eran Amer­i­can Phil Mick­el­son.

McIl­roy’s vic­tory last Sun­day was re­mark­able in that he re­cov­ered from be­ing a stroke be­hind Amer­i­can Rickie Fowler on the 10th hole to win.

Be­tween lift­ing the Claret Jug and the Wana­maker Tro­phy, McIl­roy also won the WGC Bridge­stone In­vi­ta­tional at Fire­stone CC in Akron, Ohio, a fort­night ago on his way to mak­ing it a hat-trick of vic­to­ries.

Hav­ing chalked up an im­pres­sive win­ning streak so far this year, the North­ern Ir­ish­man be­lieves the time is ripe for him to han­dle the pres­sure of the Ry­der Cup.

McIl­roy, who has joined Tiger Woods by win­ning the three ma­jors at the age of 25, is hop­ing to make a mark in his third Cup ap­pear­ance.

“I am aware that I will be a tar­get of cap­tain Tom Watson’s team. I think not just how the Amer­i­cans view me, but how I am viewed in my own team. I am go­ing to be a leader who drives us for­ward,” McIl­roy was quoted as say­ing by The Guardian this week. The Euro­pean team will be cap­tained by Ir­ish­man Paul McGin­ley. McIl­roy’s form ap­pears to have been boosted by his split from Dan­ish ten­nis star Caro­line Woz­ni­acki af­ter three years and no one can dis­pute his dec­la­ra­tion that 2014 has been a great year. But whether he can con­tinue to ex­ploit his rich vein of form at the Ry­der Cup re­mains to be seen.

With the or­gan­is­ers pulling out all the stops to se­cure his sig­na­ture, the North­ern Ir­ish­man is also tipped to be among the glit­ter­ing ar­ray of stars who will tee off at the Ned­bank Golf Chal­lenge at Gary Player Coun­try Club in Sun City in De­cem­ber.

IR­ISH LUCK Rory McIl­roy

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