Debutant Rory McIlroy has a huge role to play for Europe at Celtic Manor and the talented young Irishman can’t wait for the action to start…
Q. A lot of people over the years have spoken about the shivers and shakes that can grab hold on Friday on the first tee ‑ Darren Clarke said it’s like walking to the gallows once. What’s your feeling?
RORY McILROY: You already have a sense how big the grandstand is this morning, it wasn’t full of people but I am sure it will be full on Friday morning. I’m looking forward to it and excited about the week. There’s a great buzz already and I’m just looking forward to getting going.
Q. Two questions. What was the wager for today in financial terms?
RORY McILROY: 50, 50, 50, 50 front nine, 50 front nine, 50 for the match.
Q. Talking pounds here?
RORY McILROY: Yes.
Q. Do you regret some of your comments in the past where you downplayed it?
RORY McILROY: I think it’s probably a good thing to downplay it because it’s such a big event. You know, yeah, when you get here, you realise the importance of it and you realise how big it is and how important it is to everyone that, you know, I don’t want to let myself down this week and I don’t want to let anyone else down this week and that’s the big thing.
You are not just playing for yourself, you’re playing for 11 other guys, plus all of the backroom staff and most of Europe, as well, I suppose. That’s the big thing. You obviously want to play well for yourself but you also want to play well for everyone else.
Q. Just a follow‑up on that, you say when you get here, you realise ‑‑ is there anything, in particular thing you saw or anything said, or just what actually has happened that’s made you realise?
RORY McILROY: I don’t really want to go into too much detail, but Monty gave a great speech last night in the team room. It was really inspirational and really got everyone going. Played a tape and he said a few words; that started the week off on the right foot.
Q. It put up the hairs on the back of your neck?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, it did. It was great to be a part of, and not just the players were in there; the caddies were in there and the partners, as well. Everyone got a sense of how important it is for Europe and for The European Tour to win this Ryder Cup back.
Q. Just wanted to ask you, you had said just recently that you would not minds and quite fancy playing against Tiger; are you bothered that you may have given him or the Americans some extra motivation?
RORY McILROY: No, I’m fine. I’m all right. I mean, you’ve got to realise, I said those things the week after he had just shot 18 over at Akron, so he wasn’t playing too well at that time. (Laughing).
Yeah, he’s obviously getting his game together, and he’s working with Sean Foley and he’s making a few swing changes. I said this week and last week; I don’t mind who. I just want to win points against the team. If that’s against Tiger or Phil or Steve Stricker or Hunter Mahan or whoever, you just want to go out there and try to play as best you can. I feel as if I play to my potential this week, I’ll win a few points.
Q. Who was giving the team orders this morning, and what was the pairing ‑‑
RORY McILROY: Team orders, as in what?
Q. You and Graeme, who is the senior partner?
RORY McILROY: I’ll let G‑Mac take that role. He won around here in June, so he knows his way around this golf course, so I was asking him for a few lines.
But yeah, it was great to go out there and play this morning. The standard of the match was pretty good. I don’t think between the two teams, we had a birdie to win the hole for 12 or 13 holes in a row. Standard was pretty good.
Q. Your comments about Tiger were obviously partly tongue‑in‑cheek. Do you think in your view that there is something of the Tiger Woods aura diminished in golf for youngsters like yourself?
RORY McILROY: You know, once ‑‑ I mean, once I met Tiger, even before last year or whatever, you sort of realise that he just is a normal guy. He’s probably the best player that’s ever lived, and likely the greatest player that’s ever played the game.
But you watch so much golf on TV, and you see so many things and you watch so many highlights; and I suppose every time ‑‑ if I’m thinking back, you know, watching Tiger winning the Masters in ’97 and winning four majors in a row in 2000, 2001, you sort of don’t really believe it. You put him on such a high pedestal, and then you meet the guy and you realise that he’s obviously an unbelievable guy, but he’s just a normal guy.
Before I sort of met him, you feel as if he’s super‑human. But once you meet him you realise he’s a normal guy and works hard on his game and sort of gets the most out of it. But yeah, after what’s happened in the last 18 months, you know, a little bit. He’s still a fantastic guy, and I’m sure he’ll get back to winning the way he used to. Yeah, for the meantime, I suppose a little bit of that aura is probably gone.