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New driver is improvement - McIlroy

Rory McIlroy has allayed fears that he was about to make a risky change of equipment on the eve of the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

McIlroy has won four times this season, including the Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship in consecutive appearances, but used a new driver in practice on Tuesday.

Phil Mickelson famously changed from Titleist to Callaway clubs shortly before the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills, lost twice on the opening day in partnership with Tiger Woods and won just one point from four matches as Europe stormed to a record nine-point win.

But McIlroy revealed on Wednesday that he had been practising with the club for months and was all too aware of the Mickelson's struggles a decade ago.

"Phil Mickelson nearly hit me off the first tee in 2004," joked McIlroy, who was in Detroit as a spectator after helping Europe win the junior Ryder Cup in Ohio. "I was standing down the left-hand side, so I'm very aware of what he did that week.

"Hey look, Phil changed from one equipment manufacturer to another. This is a driver that I've actually been using and practising with since June. I wouldn't be putting it in the bag if I didn't feel it was better.

"I think everyone saw yesterday it was the only driver I had out there in the bag. It's looking likely that it's going to be in the bag this week."

McIlroy also revealed he was thrilled that former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was brought in to speak to the European team on Tuesday evening by captain Paul McGinley.

"For me being a Manchester United fan it was the highlight of the week so far," added the Open champion, who paraded the Claret Jug at Old Trafford earlier this season.

"I was just sitting there and looking up at him and I didn't take my eyes off him. I was sort of in this trance just listening to everything that he was saying and I'm sort of thinking, this is all the stuff that he's probably said to Manchester United teams over the years.

"He told us a couple of stories just of past experiences in some big games and some of the players that he managed and it was a great evening. It was a really cool thing to be a part of."

McIlroy admitted the non-Manchester United fans in the room also made their presence felt, with team-mate Sergio Garcia adding: "Obviously I am a Real Madrid fan and probably not his (Ferguson's) biggest fan in the world, but I think when you have the possibility of listening to somebody that has been up there in sports and been able to perform at a really high level for that long, it's always interesting to kind of pick his brain and see what things he's gone through.

"It was really, really interesting, and I'm actually glad that I got to... I think we all did, got to know him a little bit better and listen to him a little bit."

Celtic fan Stephen Gallacher revealed he had received a good luck message from former Parkhead boss Martin O'Neill, but was also impressed by Ferguson.

"I thought he was brilliant," Gallacher said. "He spoke for half an hour and then we sort of asked him some questions and he was very candid and very open.

"There's bits that I definitely would take away from it, not just as a team aspect, but for progression going forward.

"I kind of knew he was (a confident person) anyway, but to hear him talking you can see why the players respected him so much. You can see his sort of passion for the game and how much he loves football and how much he loves the strategy and the game.

"He misses it a bit he said, but you know, an absolute legend in my eyes."

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