Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Sunny outlook for Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell

Chilled: Rory McIlroy tuned up for the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen with a trip to Ibiza
Chilled: Rory McIlroy tuned up for the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen with a trip to Ibiza

How appropriate that on a visit yesterday to St Andrews, the home of golf, Paul McGinley insisted that Europe's Ryder Cup family is not threatened by discord.

Stating that he'd no worries about Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell heading into September's showdown with the US at Gleneagles, Ireland's first Ryder Cup captain revealed that Ulster golf's brothers-in-arms will play together "at some point".

McIlroy warmed up for tomorrow's tilt at the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen, ahead of next week's Open Championship bid at Hoylake, with a lads' holiday in Ibiza.

"It was the first time in about four years that I had gone on a lads' trip," explained McIlroy, who recently split from tennis star fiancee Caroline Wozniacki.

"It was great and it was nice to get away from golf for a little bit. It was nice to have that chance to recharge the batteries. I just chilled out."

And McGinley is backing his star man to dovetail perfectly with G-Mac in the Ryder Cup.

McGinley said: "I have no worries. I have complete trust in both of them that, if either of them has an issue, they'll speak to me. That hasn't happened and I suspect it won't happen."

Fears that a fallout between the two might cause headaches in the home camp arose last week when McDowell's name was brought by McIlroy's lawyers into Commercial Court proceedings between the golfer and his former management company Horizon.

"I'm just knocking that away," said McGinley. "I really don't have an issue with it; it's not going to become an issue in the team room and I won't let it become an issue in the team room.

"I know the guys are going to be professional enough that it won't be an issue."

Earlier this week, McIlroy bluntly dismissed suggestions that any differences with McDowell might spill over into the Ryder Cup, saying: "It's complete nonsense. I'd love to tee it up with G-Mac (at Gleneagles) and Paul knows that.

"There's obviously been a few things that have gone on that have strained the relationship," McIlroy admitted, "but I still talk to him regularly. He has stayed out of everything as much as he can. There's no ill feeling towards him from my side. G-Mac knows what is going on (with the court case). It hasn't affected our relationship in any way.

"At times it's awkward because he's with someone (McIlroy's former agents) and I'm with someone but we are the same two people.

"He's been one of my best friends on Tour and showed me the ropes. I will always be grateful," he said.

McDowell, who propelled himself firmly back into contention for an automatic Ryder Cup berth with Sunday's victory at the Open de France, has not commented on the issue.

Inevitably, the matter arose yesterday during a media briefing given by the European captain.

"Honestly, I'm not particularly worried," McGinley said.

"I spoke to Rory last October when it was well documented that he and Graeme had a good chat for an hour in Shanghai last year.

"Rory said to me 'I'd a good chat with G-Mac, all is good'. And I said 'Rory, that's all I want to hear' and I haven't spoken to him about it since.

"I don't see it as a problem. I think both of them are so professional about what they do in terms of their golf and the Ryder Cup is such a special event, I really don't see a problem."

"My relationship with both of them is strong enough that I don't think they are going to create problems.

"When it comes to the Ryder Cup, I'm going to be professional about it and so are they," he added.

"Their dynamic as a duo has been a proven success, so I'll put this on the record: I expect them to play at least one match together at Gleneagles if they both are in the team – Rory's certain but, even though Graeme still has a bit of work to do, obviously, chances are that he's going to be there."

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