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
Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
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

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
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before