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Rory's genius arrives in nick of time to inspire historic cup comeback

FOR Rory McIlroy there will be safer, more serene days when the world will see only the easiness of his talent and a boyish refusal to take life too seriously. But yesterday was not about safety or serenity or anything that did not make the blood race.

HIS European team stunned the world of golf with the greatest comeback in the 85-year history of the Ryder Cup, and amid all the improbable glory, McIlroy's place was extraordinary.

His watch almost lost him his place in the tournament by displaying a different time zone.

After beating Keegan Bradley, McIlroy said: "I was lucky there was a State Trooper outside when I realised I was on the wrong time.

"He gave me a ride and maybe I was lucky that I didn't have too much time to think about what was in front of me."

But then would it have mattered so much?

Would he not once again have operated solely on his own instincts?

And would that not have been enough?

When the world's number one-ranked player arrived with his police escort so perilously close to tee-time, and came out of his car looking rumpled enough to have spent the night on a bench at the local bus station, his pivotal match suddenly resembled more a morality tale.

But for quite a while the moral of the story seemed to be that if you have as much talent as McIlroy, you can show up pretty much when you like and maybe even while still wearing your pyjamas.

As Bradley received a rapturous reception at the first tee, McIlroy heard derisive cries of "Wakey, wakey, Rory".

Europe's team captain Jose Maria Olazabal wasn't exactly a picture of contentment.

He said: "I didn't have this in mind.

"We suddenly realised Rory was not here.

"He arrived by police escort with about 10 minutes to spare."

There was no time for the niceties of golf ritual, nor to make some final consideration of the challenge he faced in the 26-year-old Bradley, the former PGA major title winner who had been cutting down some of the best ability Europe could raise.


But there was something the new hero of American golf could not control - the genius of the young Irishman.

Bradley was the example of supreme effort, a superb willingness to draw from himself every ounce of his natural ability. McIlroy was the man who had the possibility of doing whatever was required.

That it was to beat the American hero of this Ryder Cup was not the greatest chore.

It was an affirmation of the defiance he displayed between a catastrophe at the US Masters and his triumph at the US Open.

Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and McIlroy himself had been among Bradley's victims but yesterday there was no question that the Irish virtuoso would yield.

His time-keeping might have been awry but he was untouchable in both his skill and his bravura and when he delivered victory by 2&1 on the 17th green, he could not have done more to underline his new status.

What no one could have doubted was that Rory McIlroy was indeed a young champion who could make his own rules - and create his own zone of both time and brilliance.