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Let me and Rory McIlroy lead Europe's charge, says Graeme McDowell

By James Tait

Graeme McDowell has admitted the ongoing court battle involving his management company and Rory McIlroy has put a heavy strain on their relationship – but he wants to prove the pair's friendship is stronger than ever by partnering his fellow Ulsterman at the Ryder Cup this weekend.

McIlroy initiated proceedings against former management company Horizon – who still represent McDowell – suing for alleged breaches of contract.

Horizon then counter-sued for commissions owing and McDowell found himself in the middle of the disagreement.

The Northern Ireland duo have played alongside each other at the last two Ryder Cups – Celtic Manor in 2010 and Medinah in 2012 – and G-Mac is ready to renew a partnership that has supplied Team Europe with two and a half points across the two triumphs.

McDowell, however, concedes he will not be the only one hoping to link up with McIlroy at Gleneagles.

The former US Open champion said: "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."

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

McIlroy is currently sitting at number one in the world rankings, having won four tournaments in the last five months, including double Major success with the Open and the US PGA Championship.

It has been a remarkable rise back to the top of the game for the Ulsterman, who found himself as low as 13th in the world rankings after a bitterly disappointing 2013.

And the 25-year-old believes making it three Ryder Cup wins out of three would be the perfect way to see out the year.

He said: "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 is fully aware just how much will be expected of him in Scotland this week.

He said: "I'm going to have to be one of the leaders and I'll 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.

"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 the guys. It's very special.

"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.

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

"We've got a good mix and the pairings we're going to have are going to be very, very strong."

Belfast Telegraph

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