Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

McIlroy keen to take Walker Cup by storm

Walker Cup

Rory McIlroy hopes it blows up a storm at Royal County Down over the weekend.

For once the Ulster forecast is set perfectly with a prolonged spell of dry, warm weather ahead of this weekend's match between the Americans and Great Britain and Ireland.

But a healthy gale over the two days of competition on Saturday and Sunday would play into the home side's hands perfectly.

"With a bit of luck it will blow up a bit by the weekend," McIlroy said after arriving at George Best City Airport last night with the rest of the team.

"All of us are used to playing links course in those kinds of conditions but for the Americans, it won't be something they have seen much of before.

"With a bit of good weather this week it'll dry out the fairways and give a bit of run on the ball and that lets you play all sorts of different shots in and around the greens."

McIlroy and Clandeboye's Ulster teammate Jonathan Caldwell have grown up playing golf on links courses and there are plenty more experience throughout the Great Britain and Ireland team.

Tournaments in Ireland have been plagued by bad weather in recent years but the thousands expected at Newcastle this weekend look like striking it lucky.

Last year's Ryder Cup at the K Club was blighted by torrential rain and even a gale while the Irish Open at Carton House was so severely affected by rain and wind it went into a fifth day.

Although he was pencilled onto the teamsheet for some time, McIlroy was delighted to finally have his place confirmed.

And now he wants to complete the job by taking the cup back off the Americans.

"Everything I did this year was geared towards making the team and it was a relief to get the call saying I had made it," he said.

"I've been looking forward to this week for such a long time and I just want to go out and enjoy every minute of it."

McIlroy and Clandeboye's Jonathan Caldwell join a long list of distinguished Ulster players to have made the team in the past including Darren Clarke, Ronan Rafferty and Graeme McDowell.

And there will be a lot of pressure on the pair to perform in front of their home crowd with 10,000 expected on each of the two days competition. The players are practising on the famous links course today and will then play at Baltry in Co Louth tomorrow before more practise rounds at the competition venue on Thursday and Friday.

The American team have also arrived in Newcastle and will practise there today.

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