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Monday 20 August 2018

Rory McIlroy ready to lead Europe

World No1 admits he'll be 'expected' to shine

Rory McIlroy celebrates Europe's victory in Medinah after being presented with a clock by team-mates
Rory McIlroy celebrates Europe's victory in Medinah after being presented with a clock by team-mates
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy is hoping to win his third Ryder Cup this week
Europe's players show solidarity with him by donning their 'Rory wigs' at Celtic Manor
Rory McIlroy congratulates Billy Horschel on his lucrative FedEx Cup success on Sunday
Rory McIlroy, pictured, struggled to a closing 71 as playing partner Billy Horschel won the Tour Championship and the FedEx Cup title (AP)

Rory McIlroy says winning the Ryder Cup would be "the icing on the cake" of an incredible year for him.

McIlroy heads to Gleneagles with his European team-mates this week sitting at number one in the world rankings and having won four tournaments in the last five months, including the Open and the US PGA Championship.

It has been a stunning return to form for McIlroy, who had slipped to as low as 11th in the rankings following a disappointing 2013, and now the Northern Irishman is looking to add another Ryder Cup success to his list of triumphs.

He said: "Personally for me it would just be the icing on the cake of what's already a fantastic year.

"It feels like everyone involved is just so passionate about it, and even the public get so much more passionate about it than the majors or individual tournaments.

Teams

"So it's great to be a part of; I've been a part of two winning European teams and obviously would love to make that a third this week."

McIlroy helped Europe lift the cup in 2010 and 2012 and the 25-year-old revealed they were the best experiences of his career as he was able to celebrate victory as part of a team.

However, McIlroy acknowledges that playing in a team brings different pressures and he also understands just how much will be expected of him - as the world number one - in Scotland this week.

He said: "I'm gonna have to be one of the leaders and be expected to lead by example, and that's a big responsibility, but one I want to try and handle and try and get a few points on the board early for the team.

"It's way better to win as part of a team. The best experiences in my golf career have been the Ryder Cup and to be able to celebrate with all these guys. It's very special."

McIlroy has been almost exclusively paired with countryman Graeme McDowell in his previous two Ryder Cups but it remains to be seen if the duo will link up again this week.

McIlroy did suggest, though, that there may be a few "interesting pairings" in Paul McGinley's line-up.

The four-time major winner, who has won five points from his nine Ryder Cup matches, said: "I'm very lucky that I get on well with a lot of the guys. Graeme McDowell obviously is a big friend of mine, Poults (Ian Poulter) I've played with before, Sergio Garcia's another one where we've got a good chemistry.

"So there's a few guys I can play with. You might see a few interesting pairings next week, I'm not going to give much away here...

"I think we've got a good mix of guys and I think the pairings that we're going to have are going to be very very strong."

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