Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Rory McIlroy will be on track at Ryder Cup, says Paul McGinley

Rory will be right on track: Paul

All aboard: Captains Tom Watson and Paul McGinley will hope to get their hands on the Ryder Cup next year

European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has predicted that Rory McIlroy will bounce back from his miserable year.

McIlroy's 2013 has certainly been one to forget and this even though it started with the Ulsterman signing a staggering multi-million pound deal with Nike.

Be it getting to grips with his new equipment or, as he suggested at The Open where he missed the cut, having problems in his head, the gifted 24-year-old from Holywood has failed to contend in any of the four majors this year and has not even won a tournament dropping to sixth in the world rankings.

It's in sharp contrast to 2012 when McIlroy claimed the US PGA title – his second major – and savoured three other tour victories in an outstanding season. The then world number one also helped Europe win the Ryder Cup against USA in dramatic style at Medinah.

With the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in a year's time, it seems unthinkable that McIlroy wouldn't be in the European set up.

While McGinley, who has three wild card picks in his 12 man team, won't guarantee anyone a place, he firmly believes that McIlroy, one of the most talked about figures in world sport, will find his form again.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Dubliner McGinley said: "I don't want to be the Ryder Cup captain who thinks this about Rory or that about Rory, but what I would say is just about everybody has ups and downs in their careers. Rory's had a tremendous amount of ups, he's having a little bit of a flat period at the moment but he'll come back again. There is no doubt in my mind that he will come back.

"There's not a lot broken to be honest. It's not like there is anything drastically wrong with him or wrong with his game, it's just a question of him biding his time and letting his form and confidence come back. He's proved his ability so many times already and will do it again."

Asked if McGinley saw McIlroy as a big player for next year, McGinley said: "Of course he is, but 12 months down the road you have to see where he's at and how he's playing.

"I don't want to talk too much about individual players, they've got to make the team first and then we can start thinking about how they're going to do.

"I have an open mind about how the team is going to formulate. I don't want to mentally go down the road thinking that A, B, C and D are going to be on the team, but then ultimately they might not actually make it in the end.

"I want to push everybody in the one direction and encourage everybody to play well. I'm looking for guys on form and guys that prove they're good enough to play in the Ryder Cup."

Portrush's Graeme McDowell (pictured with McIlroy), a Ryder Cup hero of the past, will expect to join countryman McIlroy on the European team. Darren Clarke would relish another crack at the Yanks as a player while a big year for Michael Hoey and Gareth Maybin could see them put themselves in the picture.

On the Irish influence, McGinley said: "Over the years the Irish have had a very influential role in the team's success in Ryder Cups and always seem to play up to their role. I see Gleneagles as no different, there is a real good bunch of Irish guys on tour now and a number of them will most likely make the team."

Famous for unforgettable finishes such as last year at Medinah when, inspired by captain Jose Maria Olazabal and Ian Poulter on the greens, Europe produced an astonishing comeback to win by a single point, the Ryder Cup rarely fails to disappoint.

McGinley, of course, holed the winning putt himself back in 2002 at the Belfry.

"It's got that X factor, hasn't it? It's team golf, players seem to raise their game to different levels during the Ryder Cup. If you look at Wales in 2010 when G-Mac holed that putt you think it can't get any better than in the last game and the last day and then you go to Medinah and you see what happened there.

"It's quite incredible how it seems to produce drama year after year. For me as captain I know it's a lot of responsibility and a lot of pressure but it's a challenge I'm looking forward to."

And being the first Irish captain of Europe?

"I don't think it is before time given how much the Irish have contributed to the Ryder Cup. I feel privileged to be the first. I have a feeling I'll not be the last."

Paul has a point. Darren Clarke is set to be crowned captain for the 2016 event in the USA. You can bet your life G-Mac would fancy it down the line, and Rory? Well, of course, but he has a lot more playing – and winning – to do before then!

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