Former world No1 Rory McIlroy insists the presence of fellow Northern Irishman Darren Clarke as Europe captain has imbued him with additional motivation for this week’s Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, which starts on Friday.
Four-time Major winner McIlroy, who claimed the $10m FedEx Cup prize money on Sunday with victory at the Tour Championship, credits Clarke as a significant influence on his development as a golfer during his formative years.
Europe have won eight of the last 10 Ryder Cup contests and have held the trophy since their 2010 success at Celtic Manor, and McIlroy has every intention of utilising the inspiration of Clarke to extend those sequences.
“My relationship goes back a long way with Darren, it’s very special for me this week,” said McIlroy. “I think it’s very special for both of us.
“I have always wanted to win for the captain but probably even more so this year because of of the relationship I have with Darren.”
McIlroy has also acknowledged that his description of the Ryder Cup as an exhibition event prior to his debut at Celtic Manor was way off the mark and an underestimation of the occasion’s intensity.
“I don’t think I understood what it was going to be like,” added the 27-year-old. “There’s nothing like walking on the first tee for the first time and feeling that rush and soaking in that atmosphere.
“I think I underestimated what the Ryder Cup would be. You think you know what it’s like under pressure – you don’t. That’s what I told rookies.”