RORY McIlroy came within 11 minutes of being one of golf's greatest laughing stocks yesterday.
Instead, he delivered a stunning performance to defeat American poster-boy Keegan Bradley to help Europe retain the Ryder Cup.
McIlroy was confused by American time zones, with TV listing his start time at 12:25pm when he was due to start an hour earlier.
Luckily a state trooper was parked outside McIlroy's hotel and he rushed the world number one to Medinah with minutes to spare.
“I have never been so worried driving to the course. I was saying, ‘Just get me there.' He was like, ‘Do you have motion sickness?' I'm saying, ‘No, I don't care, just get me to that first tee',” McIlroy said.
“If I let down these other 11 boys and vice-captains and the captain and everyone supporting us this week, I would never have forgiven myself.”
Facing taunts of “What's her name, Rory?” and “Wake up, Rory”, the 23-year-old put in a supreme display to beat Bradley 2&1, before bowing to the crowd on the 17th.
An emotional Jose Maria Olazabal put the comeback down to the late Seve Ballesteros. “All the images of Seve around the clubhouse kept that spirit alive.”