Belfast Telegraph

Big crowd will give McIlroy a huge lift

Walker Cup

By Peter Hutcheon

Rory McIlroy can't wait to be in the thick of the action when the Walker Cup starts tomorrow.

The young Ulsterman has been the star attraction at Royal County Down this week and is relishing the thought of being surrounded by thousands of supporters.

Unusually for an event with so many spectators expected, the organisers are allowing fans to walk down the fairways to within 20 yards of the greens.

"I think it's a great decision and when the crowds walk with you on the fairways it creates a buzz about the place," he said.

"One of the things we're looking forward to it the amount of people that are going to be here.

" I think that the atmosphere on the first tee come Saturday morning is going to be electric and we are all looking forward to that."

Expectation on McIlroy to lead the British and Irish team to victory is immense but the 18-year-old seems to revel in that kind of pressure.

"People have made comparisons about the Open at Carnoustie and this week but I think it's completely different," he said.

"You're playing for nine other guys out there.

"But the crowds were awesome at Carnoustie but I think this is going to be so much better for me and for everyone else.

"I'm just really looking forward to it and I can't wait to get started."

McIlroy confessed to losing around £40 in the practise matches so far this week, shooting 71 to Llewellyn Matthews and Daniel Willett's two under yesterday.

And he getting used to having his leg pulled as on the way back from a practise round at Baltray on Wednesday team captain Colin Dalgleish put a video of Rory's Game the hour-long UTV special on Monday from earlier this week on the team bus.

As anyone who watched him during the open knows, Rory's gameplan is to keep it as simple as possible and that's what he intends to do this week.

And he reckons that plenty of holes will be won with par.

"Hit it on the fairway, hit it on the green, don't do anything fancy," he said.

"It's the sort of course that if you play the front half of the greens you're going to have a chance because there are going to be a lot of holes over par.

" If you play to the front of the green and take your chances from there the likelihood is that you make pars on the difficult holes and 50 per cent of the time you are going to win those holes."

Lloyd Saltman is the only member of the Great Britain and Ireland team in the top ten of the world amateur rankings and like McIlroy, a fellow Silver Medal winner, intends to turn professional shortly after the completion of this competition.

And he expects McIlroy to take a lot of heat off the rest of the team.

"A lot of people out there are going to be here to see Rory," he said.

"So there'll be 9,000 following him and just 1,000 left for the rest of us.

"It'll be great and most of the people here will be supporting us so I've no complaints."

Saltman is happy for the home team to be regarded as favourites and isn't at all fazed by the tag.

"I think it's a good thing because if people favour us that's why we worked so hard all year to get on the team, so if people think we're favourite that's great.

"We'll just go out and try to do what we have done all year and play golf and hopefully come out on top."

"We just go out there with our own expectations and don't care what people think, " added McIlroy.

"We just go out there and play golf and hope we beat the Americans."

Belfast Telegraph


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