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McIlroy raring to go at Gleneagles

Rory McIlroy says winning the Ryder Cup would be "the icing on the cake" of an incredible year for him.

McIlroy heads to Gleneagles with his European team-mates this week sitting at number one in the world rankings and having won four tournaments in the last five months, including the Open and the US PGA Championship.

It has been a stunning return to form for McIlroy, who had slipped to as low as 11th in the rankings following a disappointing 2013, and now the Northern Irishman is looking to add another Ryder Cup success to his list of triumphs.

He said on Sky Sports' Goals on Sunday programme: "Personally for me it would just be the icing on the cake of what's already a fantastic year.

"It feels like everyone involved is just so passionate about it, and even the public get so much more passionate about it than the majors or individual tournaments.

"So it's great to be a part of; I've been a part of two winning European teams and obviously would love to make that a third this week."

McIlroy helped Europe lift the cup in 2010 and 2012 and the 25-year-old revealed they were the best experiences of his career as he was able to celebrate victory as part of a team.

However, McIlroy acknowledges that playing in a team brings different pressures and he also understands just how much will be expected of him - as the world number one - in Scotland this week.

He said: "I'm gonna have to be one of the leaders and be expected to lead by example, and that's a big responsibility, but one I want to try and handle and try and get a few points on the board early for the team.

"It's way better to win as part of a team. The best experiences in my golf career have been the Ryder Cup and to be able to celebrate with all these guys. It's very special."

McIlroy has been almost exclusively paired with countryman Graeme McDowell in his previous two Ryder Cups but it remains to be seen if the duo will link up again this week.

McIlroy did suggest, though, that there may be a few "interesting pairings" in Paul McGinley's line-up.

The four-time major winner, who has won five points from his nine Ryder Cup matches, said: "I'm very lucky that I get on well with a lot of the guys. Graeme McDowell obviously is a big friend of mine, Poults (Ian Poulter) I've played with before, Sergio Garcia's another one where we've got a good chemistry.

"So there's a few guys I can play with. You might see a few interesting pairings next week, I'm not going to give much away here...

"I think we've got a good mix of guys and I think the pairings that we're going to have are going to be very very strong."

McDowell, meanwhile, admits he would love to link back up with McIlroy - but concedes he will not be the only one.

He wrote in his BBC Sport column: " Myself and the other 10 guys would all love to be paired with the world's number one player. There would be a queue out of the door of players wanting to partner Rory and, absolutely, I would be among them.

"Yes, it has been a rough time over the last couple of years on the business side of things for both me and Rory because he has been involved in a lawsuit with my management company.

"And it certainly has put a stress on our relationship, but we have put those things behind us this year. If anything, our friendship has been strengthened by what we have experienced.

"We have talked about it and we would certainly love to renew our partnership again."

It has been confirmed that McIlroy's charitable foundation, The Rory Foundation, will become the official tournament host of the Irish Open from next year.

The event is due to be held from May 28-31 in McIlroy's native Northern Ireland at Royal County Down, the venue of his final appearance as an amateur, in the 2007 Walker Cup.

The Rory Foundation, set up at the start of last year to raise funds for children's charities across the world, will also become the tournament's official charity, with the beneficiaries to be chosen by the Foundation in conjunction with the European Tour.

He said: "Since making my debut in 2005, the Irish Open has always been a special tournament to me.

"I am excited to be partnering with George O'Grady and the European Tour, especially for next year's tournament at Royal County Down."

One of the major beneficiaries of The Rory Foundation, the Cancer Fund for Children, is located just a few miles from Royal County Down, in Newcastle.

O'Grady said: " The European Tour is thrilled that Rory and his Foundation would wish to partner with the Tour and become more closely involved in the development of the Irish Open.

"Today's announcement further demonstrates Rory's uniquely special qualities and his commitment not simply to his national Open, but also to the European Tour."

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