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McIlroy in Monty’s Ryder plans

Irish golfers should play just as prominent a part in Europe's anticipated Ryder Cup success in October as they did in the team's resounding triumph at the K Club in 2006, captain Colin Montgomerie says.

The three Irish in action then, Padraig Harrington, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley, were “a fantastic part of that win in Ireland,” Montgomerie said at the Wales Open.

And there should be no difference this time. “Irish golf is still on the up. (Rory) McIlroy has taken it to a new level. I just look forward to captaining him, to be honest, along with whatever other Irish players make it.”

He added: “Graeme McDowell has a good chance of returning to the team he graced in 2008, while Harrington and McIlroy “are almost there. I would anticipate the Irish contingent to be a very strong contingent, as always. To have a quarter of the team being Irish in 2006 was fabulous.”

McDowell hopes to further improve his chance of automatic qualification starting today at the 2010 Course at Celtic Manor where this year's event will be staged from October 1-3. He had his best finish of the year, fourth in the Madrid Masters after a closing 65 on Sunday. McDowell is 22nd on the overall Cup standings from which the top nine qualify.

“I need a big summer to get on the team. I'm just outside automatic selection now. I'm not too concerned yet,” he said.

Meanwhile, McIlroy played against Tiger Woods at the traditional skins match held on the eve of the Memorial tournament at Muirfield Village in Ohio yesterday.

It was the first time the young Ulsterman had played with Woods. Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker made up the five-ball.

Woods says he is still troubled by his neck injury which forced him to withdraw from the Players Championship and says he is assessing his swing by video rather than replacing coach Hank Haney.

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