Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Golf

Rory raring to go - McGinley

European captain Paul McGinley insists Rory McIlroy will be fresh and raring to go when the 40th Ryder Cup gets under way at Gleneagles on Friday, but hinted that Graeme McDowell may not be alongside him when it does.

McIlroy and McDowell have been regular partners in team events since 2009, winning three of their four matches in the Seve Trophy and also representing Ireland in the World Cup that year and 2011.

The Northern Irish duo have also played six times together in the Ryder Cup, including the very first match at Medinah two years ago, and would seemingly make an obvious pairing at Gleneagles.

McIlroy's ongoing court case with his former management company put a strain on their relationship as McDowell was also represented by the same firm, but, with both players insisting that would not be a factor this week, McGinley revealed other concerns.

"Both of them have assured me all along that there's no issues and that's the way I've always seen it," McGinley told a press conference on Monday. "Whether they come together or not is another story.

"Three or four months ago, I had a very strong view that they would have been, but the more I look at their statistics and the more I look at the different value I have with them, I'm thinking there may be value in not doing it.

"If I don't decide to play them, it would be for tactical reasons. They have played six Ryder Cup matches and they have only won two together (losing three and halving one). It's not like these guys are written in stone. They are not a formidable fourball pairing that's unbeatable (both wins have come in foursomes)."

McDowell was the last member of the European team to arrive at Gleneagles on Monday afternoon, while McIlroy turned up on Sunday after a week off following the Tour Championship.

Despite saying he was in need of a rest, the 25-year-old kept himself busy with various sponsorship and social events, but McGinley added: " I don't have any concern. He hit balls yesterday and got a real good break away from golf.

"Resting doesn't always necessarily mean lying in bed for the week or lying by the pool. I think getting out and doing different things he's been doing, having fun, like going to the boxing the other day, and doing that Goals on Sunday (programme) too - those are things he enjoys doing.

"He arrived yesterday afternoon, had a nice session with his coach and again this morning, so he's fresh, he's ready."

McIlroy was famously not ready for his singles match at Medinah two years ago, when a time-zone mix-up meant he needed to hitch a ride in a police car to get to the course with just 10 minutes to spare.

Staying on site at Gleneagles should ensure there is no repeat this time - "They can roll out of bed to the first tee in five minutes," McGinley joked - and the European captain has also learned another important lesson from 2012.

"It was a big learning curve for us in a lot of ways," the 47-year-old Dubliner added. "Sadly for me it was the first time in a team situation that we were really getting a wallop the first two days.

"I learned a lot from (captain) Jose Maria Olazabal - the decisions he made and the structures he put in place to give us the best chance of getting out of the hole that we were in. Looking back on it now, it was a great experience.

"The bottom line is, this is a very, very strong American team. The favourites tag is irrelevant as far as I'm concerned. We're going to have to play really well to win this Ryder Cup.

" I think we're slight favourites. We're not overwhelming favourites. But we have been favourites before and I think our players have deserved it. I think it's a situation to embrace. It's not something to be afraid of or be ashamed of. The guys have worked very hard to be in the position they are."

McGinley revealed that there would be no ban on players using social media during the week, adding: " The last few Ryder Cups that I've been involved in the policy was to be aware of what you're doing and be aware of confidences to be breached and privacy. You have to trust the players at the end of the day."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph