Tuesday 21 January 2020

Rory McIlroy cools talk of Irish Ryder Cup 'three in a row'

Rory McIlroyfelt is already looking ahead to Europe’s challenge to win back the cup in 2018.Photo: David Davies/PA
Rory McIlroyfelt is already looking ahead to Europe’s challenge to win back the cup in 2018.Photo: David Davies/PA

Liam Kelly

Is Team Europe ready for a third Irish captain in succession for the 2018 match in Paris?

That's the question which was put to Rory McIlroy in the aftermath of the defeat at Hazeltine.

Padraig Harrington is the obvious Irish candidate if he wants it, but nationality could count against him following Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke into the hot seat.

"It depends on who feels they are ready for it," said McIlroy ."I don't know. You have got someone like a Lee Westwood, you've got Thomas Bjorn, you've got Padraig obviously.

"He might be trying to go for it, that would be three Irish captains in a row, I don't know how that would feel.

"We obviously need a captain, need a leader. It could be any one of a number of guys."

The European talisman felt deflated at the end of a tiring week which began with his victory at the Tour Championship in East Lake, but he is already looking ahead to Europe's challenge to win back the cup in 2018.

"It will make us stronger to come back in Paris and I wouldn't be surprised if you see a very similar team set-up in 2018 and we'll try to get this thing back," he said.

Reflecting on Clarke's captaincy, McIlroy had no complaints.

"I don't think Darren could have done anything else. He has been a fantastic captain. I wanted to win so badly for him. If you could have seen him in the team room all week and the things he was saying, how great an atmosphere he created. It was fantastic.

Clarke stood by the decisions he made, and feels the European system is working well enough, despite ending up with six rookies on the team for a tough away match. He had three wildcards picks, while Davis Love III had four but Clarke does not expect Europe to change the system.

"Absolutely leave it as it is. They (Europe) have been successful thus far. We've come up against a very strong American team and their captain and they've played better than we have. There's no other answer to it all," said Clarke.

Woods in the frame

Tiger Woods has raised the prospect of him captaining the United States, although the 14-time major winner insisted his priority is to make it on to the next team as a player.

Woods, 40, is due to return next week at the Safeway Open on the PGA Tour after more than year on the sidelines recovering from multiple back operations. Woods is actually part of that six-man panel, joining Phil Mickelson, Love and three members of the PGA of America executive that will decide who will take the reins for 2018.

"Seeing what our captain went through, that's hard," Woods said. "Yeah, I would love to do it. I would be honoured to do it in the future, if asked."

Irish Independent

The Throw-In: New era for Dublin, all up for grabs in the hurling league and club final heroics

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport