Ryder Cup: The USA want to target me? Bring it on, says bullish Rory McIlroy

Belligerent McIlroy, who is now well aware of the power of the Ryder Cup, eager to get points on the board


Rory McIlroy is growing into the role of golf's big beast. If the Americans want to target him, let them. McIlroy skipped on to the Ryder Cup stage here at Medinah unrecognisable from the uncertain, even shy youth who made his debut at Celtic Manor. There, he had still to be convinced of the power and authenticity of Ryder Cup mythology, wasn't sure what all the fuss was about.

He has a better understanding now, not only of the scale of this event but of his role in it. McIlroy has been the focus of American interest. The points-scoring begins long before the first shot, and, to borrow from the Ryder Cup lexicon of Ian Poulter, McIlroy is the one with the biggest bull's eye on his back. Great. Bring it on, he says.

"I think it's a huge compliment that people are saying they want to beat me and whatever," he said yesterday. "Whoever wants to take me on, they can take me on." This is just the flavour of belligerent rhetoric required to douse American flames. Bombast does not come easy to McIlroy, but he is learning the law of the golfing jungle and with two majors under his loin cloth, the second coming just a month ago at the PGA, the chest-beating is justified. It comes with due deference to his team-mates, a hallmark of the European team ethic.

"There are guys that have played more Ryder Cups than me and are more experienced in the team room. I don't think my role is to be leader in the team room. The way I have played the last couple of years it's more a leader on the course, to try to win my point and put points on the board.

"I don't have a number, a total (in my head)," McIlroy said. "The US are a strong team and with them playing at home, they are favourites. We have to play very well to have a chance. So if I play on Friday morning I want to go out there, get my point and take it from there."

The "if" was diplomacy. McIlroy will feature in the opening foursomes almost certainly alongside Graeme McDowell, with whom he was paired on the opening day of practice on Tuesday. Few know better than captain Jose Maria Olazabal about the importance of chemistry to a pairing. Playing alongside Seve Ballesteros, Olazabal formed the most potent twosome the event has known. He would not want to disturb the equilibrium of a pairing that draws on friendship as well as roots.

Lee Westwood has enjoyed great success with Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia in previous Ryder Cups. Assuming the combined 59 Westwood and Donald shot in taking money off Poulter and Justin Rose on Tuesday is significant then Olazabal's big decision is who to pair with Garcia tomorrow morning. He will not be short of volunteers. As McIlroy maintained, the sense of camaraderie in the European team room is overwhelming. He checked in his No 1 ranking at the door.

"This week I'm not the No 1 player in the world. I'm one person in a 12-man team and that's it. It's a team effort. There's 12 guys all striving towards the same goal. I'm just part of that. I just want to go out and get a point for the team, whether that's going out first, fourth or in the middle it doesn't make a difference to me and it does not make a difference who I play. I'm going to go out there and give it my best to win that point."

If you infer from that the view that McIlroy is ready to take on all-comers, you will not be contradicted. For all-comers, read Tiger Woods, in whom the American team continues to invest everything. "As I said earlier I'm just going out to win my point. If that's against him or someone else, it doesn't matter."

This is the real strength of McIlroy. He has mastered all doubt. He knows that when he reaches for that extra gear and finds it, he is beyond the reach of all. And this feeling of personal empowerment is significantly enhanced in the team setting. "Playing at Celtic Manor opened my eyes. The majors are still the tournaments I want to win but I got to the Ryder Cup in Wales and my perception changed.

"I'd been to Ryder Cups to watch and I know how exciting they are, but until you are actually involved it's different. When you stand on that first tee on Friday morning, everyone screaming your name, you see how important it is to everyone. You are not just playing for yourself, you are playing for a lot of other people. That's what makes it so special and so important."

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice