Rory McIlroy yesterday called the Ryder Cup an "exhibition" event and declared "it's not that important for me". Which means there will probably be a very interesting conversation taking place at the Irish Open today. If the comments from the 20-year-old were strange then so was his timing: he is due to partner the Europe captain Colin Montgomerie in the first two rounds here at Co Louth Golf Club.
Montgomerie did not want to be drawn into anything that could be construed as "a war of words" with the brilliant young Ulsterman, but was quite unequivocal in his respect for the biennial match with the US.
"It's not an exhibition and it never will be," said the 45-year-old. "It's a very unique, special event and much more nerve-racking than a major. Rory has not played in a Ryder Cup and will understand what it's all about when – and it's not an 'if' – he is a Ryder Cup player. He'll understand the pressures involved and the whole scenario will hit him very hard."
McIlroy is clearly not in absolute agreement. "It's not a huge goal of mine," said the world No 19. "It's an exhibition." Should he play at the 2010 match at the Celtic Manor resort in Newport, he added: "I'm not going to go running around fist-pumping".
Meanwhile, Montgomerie revealed his satisfaction with the decision by the players' committee on Tuesday night to grant him a third wild card. His opposite number Corey Pavin will have one more than that, but Montgomerie said: "I got what I wanted. I'm just concerned about getting the strongest team and having one more option might just allow me to do that."