Revealed: How Americans put Rory McIlroy back on course at the Ryder Cup

Had PGA officials and policeman not found world No 1, Europe would have lost trophy

Chicago

It was America that won it. Rory McIlroy has two quick-thinking officials from the PGA of America and Lombard deputy police chief Pat Rollins to thank for his role in winning the Ryder Cup. Without them, he would not have made his tee time and the point he won against Keegan Bradley would have been awarded to America, handing the Ryder Cup to the hosts.

The alarm was raised by 27-year-old Erica Stoll, a PGA transport official at Medinah, who noticed that McIlroy had not arrived by official car. A sweep of the course revealed that he was not on site, prompting an urgent call to her colleague Maggie Budzar at the team hotel.

A frantic search of the players' 14th floor by hotel housekeeping staff revealed one room still occupied. McIlroy was due off in the third match of the morning, which was half an hour away. Budzar, 28, said: "I knew JP [JP Fitzgerald, McIlroy's caddie] had left about an hour earlier. I knew his [McIlroy's] tee time was 11.25 and he was the third group to go off. And we still hadn't seen him.

"We tag-team with my colleague at the course, ticking them in and out. There was a huge crowd here waiting to video and photograph the players so everyone knew he [McIlroy] hadn't come down yet. The crowd were getting antsy asking where he was so I just lied and said he had already left.

"And then I started getting worried that something had happened to him or that he had taken a different ride to the course. The hotel said he was maybe on the players' floor. There was only one room still in use when housekeeping checked and a male voice said not to come in. We figured it had to be him because by now we knew he wasn't at the course. I called the European tour officials to alert them. We then had someone go up to his room. He was in a panic when he came down."

McIlroy was just emerging from his room when the staff member intercepted him at 11.52am. He was just taking a call from his manager, Conor Ridge, who had phoned to wish him luck. McIlroy had ignored a series of calls while in his room because he did not recognise the numbers. Only now did McIlroy understand the pickle he was in. "I woke up at 9am to call Caroline [Wozniacki, his girlfriend] who's in Beijing. I was up for a while. I was just hanging around," he said.

"I had a couple of missed calls from a number I didn't recognise about half 10 so I didn't pick up. And then I got a phone call from my manager saying, 'Are you at the golf course yet?' I said 'No, I'm not.' He said, 'But you're teeing off in 25 minutes.' I said, 'No I'm not, it's an hour and 25.' He said, 'You're taking the mick, you are at the golf course.' And I said, 'No I'm not.' He said, 'Well, you'd better get there.'

"I was just lucky there was a state trooper [Rollins] downstairs who could put the lights on and get me past all the traffic. If we hadn't had them on it would have taken another 10 minutes from the highway junction. I've never been as frightened going to a golf course in my life; once I got out on the golf course I calmed down a bit. Keegan [Bradley] said to me, 'Is everything OK, no one's hurt or anything?' I told him everything was fine."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected