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I'm not a rookie now, I've more responsibility: Rory

By Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy has thrown down the gauntlet to America ahead of the Ryder Cup, which starts next Friday at Gleneagles.

The 25-year-old world number one, who took his major tally to four with wins in this year's Open and USPGA championships, says he is relishing the challenge of taking on more responsibility in what will be his third Ryder Cup.

"I was world number one in 2012, but this is my third Ryder Cup and I'm not a rookie anymore. I've got more responsibility," said the Ulsterman.

"There are still a few guys older than me but I'm somewhat of a leader and will try to set an example and lead from the front.

"Hopefully captain (Paul) McGinley puts that trust in me and I can go and lead the team out and hopefully get a few points on the board for Europe."

Nine-time major winner Gary Player has tipped McIlroy to become only the sixth player in history to complete the career grand slam.

"For Rory to win two majors with a World Golf Championship event back-to-back is an incredible achievement," said Player.

"When you add the flagship event on the European Tour, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, it's been an outstanding season so far for him.

"If he can continue to stay happy and healthy, he'll be the next grand slam winner. I told him the day after his first major that I for one truly believe that he can do it.

"I won the grand slam at age 29 when I won the US Open at Bellerive in 1965. That will be 50 years ago next year. It would truly be a treat to see Rory complete his grand slam on the 50th anniversary of mine.

"If he does not win the Masters in 2015, I believe it will only be a matter of time.

"He's on top of the world right now, with tons of confidence.

"I certainly think that he will be the talisman for the European Ryder Cup team."

Meanwhile, Holland's Joost Luiten leads the Wales Open at Celtic Manor by a shot after a first round six under 65.

Ulster duo Michael Hoey and Gareth Maybin are struggling on three over and six over respectively.

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