Rory McIlroy believes defeat at Hazeltine two years ago has made him even more determined to bring the Ryder Cup back to Europe when he tees off in his fifth showing this week at Le Golf National.
The Northern Irishman arrived at Celtic Manor in 2010 as a precocious and prodigious talent and partnered up with countryman Graeme McDowell, who went on to claim the vital point in a narrow European victory.
McIlroy tasted victory at two more Ryder Cups in 2012 and 2014, along with claiming four Major championships, three Races to Dubai and becoming No 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking in the years that followed.
By his own admission, he did not understand the significance of the Ryder Cup when he first played in it but after tasting defeat in 2016 on American soil, he is now desperate to make to four wins out of five as one of Thomas Bjorn’s troops.
‘I’ve been excited for this basically since the last day in Hazeltine whenever we weren’t the ones spraying champagne for a change,’ he said.
‘I really love being a part of the process. The dialogue I’ve had with Thomas over the past few months has been great and seeing the team take shape and everyone that’s played their way on, it’s exciting.
‘It doesn’t seem that it’s been that long or this is going to be my fifth Ryder Cup but they have all been wonderful experiences for different reasons and I’m sure this time will be no different.’
McIlroy has been front and centre of European Ryder Cup teams ever since his debut, playing in every session and winning 11 points in the process.
That would suggest he is set for a heavy workload again and while the 29-year-old is happy to take on a leading role, he will do whatever is necessary to help the team.
‘Whatever the guys want me to do or whatever Thomas thinks my role should be, that’s what I’m going to play,’ he said. ‘I’m sure I’ll be one of the leaders.
‘I think you have a lot of great players on the team that have played in a lot of Ryder Cups and will put their hand up to be one of the leaders and to try to lead by example.
‘Justin Rose – who was No 1 in the world there just a couple weeks ago, FedExCup winner – Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, guys that have played in a lot of Ryder Cups and have had a lot of success individually and in team events. I’m just one of those guys, I’m one of 12.
‘I’ll do whatever I can to help the team and I just want to get ready and get prepared so that when I tee off on Friday morning, I’m going to be ready to go and ready to play five if needed.’
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