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Rory McIlroy will be ready to take the fight to Yanks: McGinley Ryder Cup skipper

By Steve Simpson

Paul McGinley expects a "buoyant and energised" Rory McIlroy to take the Ryder Cup by storm next week.

The world number three has had an inconsistent year, but former European captain McGinley said the Northern Irishman's win at this month's Deutsche Bank Championship was a big boost for the European team.

Now he's predicting the Holywood star will shine at Hazeltine.

"He (McIlroy) is Europe's highest-ranked player and we all know how talented he is," the 49-year-old Dubliner said. 

"Apart from winning the Irish Open he's had a quiet year, particularly on the PGA Tour and in the major championships.

"But he addressed the problems he was having with his putting, hired a new coach and that was validated with his win in Boston.

"It has given him a lot of confidence and I think we'll see a buoyant and energised Rory McIlroy at the Ryder Cup." 

McGinley also expects the six rookies in this year's team to draw on their international experience to thrive under pressure against the United States.

US Masters champion Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Andy Sullivan and Matt Fitzpatrick, along with wildcard pick Thomas Pieters, will be making their Ryder Cup debuts when Europe defend the trophy in Minnesota.

"The European team have six rookies heading to Hazeltine, but I don't think that will be an issue or a concern," McGinley, who led Europe to victory two years ago, said.

"They are all experienced players, they've all won big tournaments, and they have all performed on the big stage... They are young, vibrant and they will not be intimidated by the atmosphere of a Ryder Cup in the United States."

Captain Darren Clarke will be looking to guide Europe to an unprecedented fourth consecutive Ryder Cup victory.

"They are part of a team and Darren will be making sure they don't lose their focus," McGinley said. "Don't play the occasion, play the game of golf."

Meanwhile, outgoing PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem has hailed Tiger Woods as the greatest player he has ever seen.

When Finchem took over in 1994, total purses on the PGA Tour were $56.4m. This season the number exceeded $325m.

Under Finchem's stewardship the PGA Tour also added four World Golf Championships events, the Presidents Cup and the FedExCup. The Tour was also a guiding force for golf's inclusion in the Olympics.

Many have written that the Tour's growth was mostly because of Woods, who joined the Tour in 1996.

"Well, he's the only living player to win 79 times, and only one player has ever won more. He's the only active player to have won 14 majors, and only one player has won more," said Finchem.

"I love Jack Nicklaus beyond belief, but I have to put Tiger down as probably the greatest player to ever play, and the way he did it and his domination at a time when you're bringing more and more good players along, is incredible.

"I always refer to it as kind of like Michael Jordan in the NBA. He just lifted boats and brought in so many new fans to the game and changed it."

Belfast Telegraph


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