Thursday 14 December 2017

McIlroy: I was more up for this than my two Majors

European Ryder Cup player Rory McIlroy celebrates winning the sixth hole against Rickie Fowler at Gleneagles
European Ryder Cup player Rory McIlroy celebrates winning the sixth hole against Rickie Fowler at Gleneagles
European Ryder Cup player Rory McIlroy reacts during his 5&4 singles victory over Rickie Fowler

Carl Markham

World number one Rory McIlroy lived up to his reputation by delivering Europe's first point of Sunday's singles with a 5&4 victory over good friend Rickie Fowler.

Third out in the order the Northern Irishman took a stranglehold on his game by going three up in as many holes with two birdies and an eagle.

Two more birdies took him five clear through six and although he handed one back with a bogey at the seventh he was never in any real danger and closed out the match with two birdies in his last three holes as he finished approximately eight under par for 14 holes.

With the score at 11-6 and Europe also ahead in four other matches Paul McGinley's side were on course to win the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and maintain their dominance over the United States.

"I know what was expected of me and I knew what I expect from myself," he told Sky Sports.

"I was probably more up for this than the two final days of my majors (he won) this year.

"There was no other option but to win and I played my best golf of the week.

"I built a comfortable lead which I was able to hang on to."

McIlroy was followed home by compatriot Graeme McDowell who, from being three down after five holes against impressive rookie Jordan Spieth, carded five birdies in eight holes from the eighth and holed a clutch eight-foot putt on the 17th to win 2&1.

"I just got off to such a slow start. I felt I hadn't had enough course time with just fourballs and I hadn't seen the ball go in the hole enough," McDowell told Sky Sports.

"I dug in, he missed a putt on seven to go four up which was massive, and I just felt something inside me turn around and I was really proud of myself the way I played the back nine.

"The captain put a big role on me this this morning and I am pleased I could deliver.

"We talked about it last night - even if you are three down just try to win the next hole to get the crowds on your side, just extend the match, extend the match."

The United States got their first point of the day when Henrik Stenson missed a four-foot birdie putt at the 18th to give Patrick Reed a one-up victory to make the score 12-7.

Europe were still up in three matches and down in four, with Sergio Garcia all square against Jim Furyk and last pair Victor Dubuisson and Zach Johnson level after eight holes of regulation pars.

Europe edged within a point of the magic 14 when Martin Kaymer, who holed the putt which retained the trophy in Medinah two years ago, chipped in from the side of the 16th green for an eagle three to beat Bubba Watson 4&2.

America's second point was secured by Phil Mickelson with a 2&1 win over Stephen Gallacher, with Matt Kuchar's 4&3 victory against Thomas Bjorn making the score 13-9.

But Hunter Mahan made a mess of his flop shot besides the 18th green to hand Justin Rose a half point.

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