New feeling: Rory McIlroy warning for Ryder Cup rookies ahead of Hazeltine showdown with US
Europe will have six newcomers on their team under Darren Clarke as they seek a fourth consecutive win in the biennial match play event
Rory McIlroy on Wednesday warned Europe’s Ryder Cup rookies to prepare for the toughest golf environment of their careers ahead of this month’s biennial battle with the United States.
World number three McIlroy, who was speaking ahead of the BMW Championship, said he planned to brief the five first-timers in Europe’s ranks about what to expect when hostilities get under way at Hazeltine National from September 30.
McIlroy, 27, is a veteran of winning European sides in 2010, 2012 and 2014 and said even now he had still not got fully comfortable with the bearpit-like atmosphere of the tournament – and this year it is being played in the Americans’ own backyard.
“I was really uncomfortable in 2010, I was just uncomfortable in 2012 and I was somewhat uncomfortable in 2014,” McIlroy said. “It’s a tournament where you get feelings you’ve never had before.”
— Ryder Cup Team EUR (@RyderCupEurope) August 30, 2016
McIlroy said he would emphasise the unique nature of the event to reigning Masters champion Danny Willett, the Englishman who pulled off a shock victory at Augusta in April to land his first major.
“Someone like Danny Willett on our team, who’s won the Masters, I’m going to say, ‘That final round [at Augusta] was great, but you were playing with Lee Westwood, who’s a buddy of yours. And you weren’t really in contention until the final five or six holes.’
“Well, the first round of a Ryder Cup is like playing the final round of a major for all 18 holes. Guys are going to experience things that they’ve probably never experienced before on a golf course.
“It’s a tough environment.”
McIlroy aims to arrive at the Ryder Cup in prime form having benefitted from a mid-season break after opting to skip the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
“It was nice to have that three-week break to get refreshed and get ready with this run coming up,” McIlroy said.
“I think some guys are feeling a little bit more tired than I am right now.”
The benefits of that three-week lay-off were on display on Monday in the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston, when the Northern Irishman shot a blistering closing six-under-par 65 to claim a two-stroke victory.
The win earned McIlroy another US$1.53 million and catapulted him from 38th to fourth place in the standings for the lucrative FedExCup post-season series.
The shot that led to Rory's victory. https://t.co/55PNbK57pK
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) September 6, 2016
McIlroy hopes the victory is an omen for the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Course in Carmel, Indiana.
The last time McIlroy won the Deutsche Bank in 2012 he followed it with victory at the BMW Championship on the same course.
“It would be a great season if I can play the way I am playing through the next two FedExCup events and then into the Ryder Cup,” McIlroy said.
— Ryder Cup Team EUR (@RyderCupEurope) August 20, 2016
“I still won’t have achieved what I wanted to achieve this season, but it would be a nice way to finish the season off, I guess.
“Anytime you’re part of a winning Ryder Cup team it’s a special moment. I’m looking forward to trying to help the team as much as I can.”