McIlroy jubilant after Ryder Cup experience

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The Independent Online

Rory McIlroy today completed his transformation from Ryder Cup sceptic to convert after winning a crucial half point for Europe on a final-day thriller at Celtic Manor.

A little over a year ago, the rising star from Northern Ireland dismissed golf's blue ribband event as an "exhibition", placing it way down on his list of career priorities.

But after sending the crowd on the 18th hole into raptures with a nerveless five-foot putt against Stuart Cink this afternoon, the 21-year-old revealed he had changed his tune entirely.

"I would not have said this a year ago, but this is the best event in golf by far," he enthused.

McIlroy's topsy-turvy clash with Cink was the first of today's singles matches to go to the final hole.

And the pair delivered a suitably dramatic finish, with McIlroy's second shot finding the greenside bunker as he bravely attempted to clear the water hazard on the treacherous par five.

His subsequent shot initially looked good but was underhit enough to roll back down into the sand.

His next was a peach and when Cink missed a birdie putt to win the hole and match, McIlroy kept his cool.

Asked how much pressure he felt standing over that final putt, which made it 11-9 to Europe, McIlroy said: "Probably not as much as over the first bunker shot.

"I played such a good one but it caught on the fringe and came back."

Today's match was McIlroy's third against the in-form Cink of the competition, the former losing one and halving one of the previous two.

He added: "I thought we both played very well and I played him three times, and half is probably what we both deserved."