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

Medinah

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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Club legend Paul Scholes is scared United could disappear into 'the wilderness'
football
Life and Style
food + drink
News
video
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home