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McIlroy ready for Ryder Cup leadership role

World number says he will not be afraid to voice opinion to older teammates

Image Credit: Reuters
Rory McIlroy
Gulf News

Norton, Massachusetts PGA Championship winner Rory McIlroy may be the youngest member on the European Ryder Cup team but the Northern Irishman said on Thursday he is ready to take on a leadership role in the team competition.

The 23-year-old world number one, who made his debut in the biennial event in 2010, said he will not hesitate to raise his hand at this year’s edition against the United States at Medinah Country Club outside Chicago from September 28 to 30.

“I know there are a lot of older guys than me that are going to be on the European team, but I feel like I’m in a position where I’d be one of the leaders of that team and if I feel strongly about something, I’ll voice that,” McIlroy said ahead of this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, the second of the PGA Tour’s four lucrative FedExCup playoff events.

McIlroy, who captured his second major title when he cruised to a record eight-shot win at the PGA Championship earlier this month, is over four years younger than Germany’s Martin Kaymer, the next youngest member of the 12-man European team.

But that will not keep McIlroy from letting European captain Jose Maria Olazabal know his preferences for playing partners, order of play or strategy.

“I think the big thing about the Ryder Cup is you have to be a good team member,” said McIlroy. “You can’t be afraid to voice your opinion. If you really feel strongly about something in the team room, you’ve got to stand up and speak.”

Good Chance

Before arriving in Chicago, McIlroy hopes to make a move in the FedExCup playoffs at this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, which begins on Friday, confident he can excel on a course that is considered a long-bomber’s paradise.

After finishing in a tie for 24th last week in the first of four lucrative playoff events and falling to fourth from second in the overall standings, McIlroy is upbeat he can consolidate his position at TPC Boston.

He is already guaranteed a place in the remaining playoff events, including the season ending Tour Championship in Atlanta where the overall points winner pockets a $10 million (Dh36.7 million) bonus.

His goal is to remain inside the top five heading to East Lake in Atlanta as those who start the event in the top five have their destiny in their own hands.

McIlroy returns to Boston for the first time since 2010, his lone appearance at the event where he opened with an impressive seven-under 64 before fading to a tie for 37th.

“It’s a good course for the long hitters,” said McIlroy, who ranks sixth in driving distance with an average 310 yards. “You’ve got to take advantage of the par-fives around here. The scoring is usually pretty good.

“I feel like I’m playing well enough, I’m driving the ball well and giving myself enough chances, so if I can get the putter to cooperate a little bit better than it did last week, then hopefully I’ll have a good chance.”