Rory McIlroy has a message for Team USA ahead of next week’s Ryder Cup clash in Scotland: give it your best shot.
The World No. 1 says he’s confident that he can beat anyone American captain Tom Watson sends out to face him at Gleneagles. “Whoever they want to send out against me, it’s no problem to me,” McIlroy said Thursday, while making a public appearance for a sponsor in London. “I want to lead from the front and by example, and I’m confident enough in the way I am playing right now to do that.”
McIlroy has every right to feel confident after a season in which he won two majors—the Open Championship and the PGA Championship—and reclaimed the top spot in the world rankings from Adam Scott.
Watson said earlier this week that his team would focus on knocking off the “big dogs” on the European squad, players like McIlroy and 2012 Cup hero Ian Poulter. McIlroy says he welcomes the challenge.
“I know I will have a target on my back but I love that and I am going to play up to it as much as I can,” he said. “It’s a massive compliment whenever the opposition are talking about you. I know what a huge fillip it would be for them if I lose, but it is up to me to make sure it doesn’t happen. I’m a double major champion this year, and its important that I embrace that and step up and take on the responsibility.”
At the 2012 Ryder Cup McIlroy partnered with fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell for three matches, winning twice. He also won another match partnering Poulter and defeated Keegan Bradley in Sunday singles to cap a stunning European comeback.
The relationship between McIlroy and McDowell has been clouded by the on-going courtroom battle between McIlroy and his former management company, Horizon Sports. McDowell is also represented by Horizon but plans to leave the company at the end of the year. McIlroy insists the legal issues won’t impact the team in Scotland.
"I’d love to play with G-Mac," McIlroy said. "I think everyone can see the chemistry we have together and there’s no reason why it can’t be the same this time. We were both playing in Denver two weeks ago and went out to dinner together. There’s no problem between us."