Ryder Cup-bound Rory McIlroy buoyed by Darren Clarke call-up
Having Darren Clarke right behind him in the Ryder Cup will be a godsend to Rory McIlroy.
Clarke was a surprise choice of vice-captain when Colin Montgomerie named his backroom team for October's match with the Americans at Celtic Manor earlier this week.
But McIlroy, virtually certain to be on the team, is delighted at the selection.
“I think it's will be great to have him there, for myself especially because Darren has played five Ryder Cups now and if anyone knows what its all about, it's him,” he said.
“It's nice to have someone that you are quite close with to show you the ropes.
“I'm very excited that Darren is going to be involved and I'm sure he is going to bring a lot to the teamroom.
“It will make me feel more at ease just because I know if there's anything I need to ask him, he is going to be around.
“I know Monty and I can obviously go to him, but I know Darren a lot better and I'm going to feel a lot more comfortable there around him.”
Padraig Harrington also had the Ryder Cup on his mind yesterday as at the moment, he does not qualify for the team.
And he admitted that he might have played more in Europe rather than America, had he known before just how difficult it was going to be for him to break into Colin Montgomerie’s team.
“The form has been nice, but I haven't made the big finishes this year,” he said.
“It's a tough team to make, especially when you are trying to make it from the world rankings when there are only four places available.
“Had I known I would be in this position I might have decided to play a few more tournaments in Europe and try to make the team that way.”
Yesterday was the first time that Clarke had played the Sir Nick Faldo designed Lough Erne course and despite the driving rain, he loved it.
“You could stage a European Tour event out there, no question,” he said.
“The greens are as good as, if not better, than any that I've played on this year.
“It's a fantastic set-up and exactly the sort of course that professionals would love to come and play on.
And Clarke was more than happy to walk away a winner, alongside McIlroy from his first taste of the Lough Erne Challenge.
“Rory started off great out there and was hitting birdies from all over, so there was nothing for me to do,” he said. “But it's great to see him playing so well and long may it continue.”