Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Steven Beacom: Why Rory McIlroy is right about the Ryder Cup

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy’s been at it again. His crime? Being honest about the Ryder Cup.

The Holywood hero has said that he would rather win a major, or indeed a world championship event, than the revered and respected team competition.

It’s not the first time Rory has made his feelings known on the subject.

And it’s not the first time I’ve heard people question his views.

Wrongly in my opinion.

I agree with McIlroy and see exactly where he is coming from.

Make no mistake about it when the might of the European tour takes on the Yanks it really is an awesome event.

I covered the Ryder Cup and World Cup finals in 2002 for this newspaper and although football is my first love, I enjoyed the golf just as much.

The drama was never ending at the Belfry eight years ago and the atmosphere electric as Paul McGinley rolled in the winning putt on the 18th, before being surrounded by captain Sam Torrance and his delirious team-mates.

The thing is, that was McGinley’s defining moment.

He’ll always be remembered for it which obviously is wonderful, but for a player like McIlroy he wants to be remembered for much much more.

Let’s not put a roadblock in front of that ambition.

Let’s encourage it.

Rory wants to be known as one of the greatest golfers in the history of the sport. Up there with names like Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods.

When you think of icons like that, the Ryder Cup is not the first thing that springs to mind.

Okay, in Tiger’s case things have changed with his off-course activities now more famous than what he has achieved on the fairways, but in golfing terms you get the point.

These guys were, and in Tiger’s case still are, all about the major championships. Had the World Championship events been around when Nicklaus and Watson were in their pomp, they would have been doing everything to win them too.

Golf remains an individual sport and a ruthless and highly competitive one at that.

Team events come around now and again, and while the Ryder Cup is amazing to be involved in, his bread and butter is when he is out on tour with only his caddie and the galleries for support.

Rory McIlroy will win majors.

Hopefully lots of them.

He’ll also play for Europe many times in the Ryder Cup.

I’ll guarantee you this, he will win points galore for the continent, starting in Wales, especially if paired with Graeme McDowell.

You can bet your life no-one will be trying harder in Wales than the 21-year-old.

He’ll be desperate to win for Team Europe. There’s nothing wrong, though, with him being more desperate to win The Open, US Masters or World Championships. Those events will define his career, not the Ryder Cup.

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